Posts Tagged ‘Islam’

Stop the Gellerization of America

December 4, 2011

Pamela Geller is this nice Muslin lady who runs an anti-Islam organization with its very own website and everything. She likes to warn us real Americans about the Mohammedans when they’re about to do something illegal, like whistle a call to prayer at a stoplight. There’s always some new and exciting way to be afraid of those Moslems.

With Thanksgiving coming, Geller has spent the past week or so wondering what the best way to connect her McCarthyite crusade to the holiday, like most of us have. And that’s how she discovered that your Thanksgiving turkey is really a Trojan Horse which has been brainwashed by the Prophet Mohammed. Check it:

Did you know that the turkey you’re going to enjoy on Thanksgiving Day this Thursday is probably halal? If it’s a Butterball turkey, then it certainly is — whether you like it or not.

Whether you like it or not, people! You cannot change your dead turkey’s religion just by wishing for a postmortem conversion really, really hard! That is unless you’re a Mormon, in which case you can have a weird pagan ceremony where you baptize your dead turkey along with a few Nazi war criminals for good measure. Anyway, this is a shock to Geller’s audience, who probably also believes in The Secret, Atlantis, energy independence, and extended warrantees too.

So why is Geller the only one very concerned about the Muslim turkeys? Sure, maybe it’s not the most important thing in the world. It’s probably only the fourth most important thing in the world. Geller laments how she seems to be the only one freaking out over this:

Where are the PETA clowns and the ridiculous celebs who pose naked on giant billboards for PETA and “animal rights”? They would rather see people die of cancer or AIDS than see animals used in drug testing, but torturous and painful Islamic slaughter is OK.

Yes, where is PETA? See, this is what separates a level-headed rational person like Pamela Geller from those ridiculous celebs and clowns, of which she certainly isn’t one at all, no, no sir. Why doesn’t PETA have an entire section of their website devoted to the cruelty of this halal slaughter practice including an article titled “The Cruelty Behind Muslim Ritual Slaughter” which anyone with two brain cells to rub against each other and a fraction of a second and Google could find? We may never know.

My Apostate Dog and Me

September 10, 2011

How I Won The War On Terror For America By Adopting A Dog (You’re Welcome)

I don’t want to be one of those internet writers who write about their pets and do “Sundog” blog posts, but there’s a pretty weird story which needs to be told about how I got her. This is my new friend Darwin:

“Allahu Akbar!”

Even though Darwin sounds more like a name for guys, she’s a mixed beagle so I thought it was appropriate. Sometimes I call her a muggle.

Anyway, I got this dog from a lady who works with my sister. She was dog-sitting her for a friend of her’s who went to Afghanistan. Apparently he isn’t in the military and didn’t go to work for a contractor. He just decided to go to Afghanistan. And now he’s decided he’s not coming back, so this friend of my sister wanted to get rid of this dog since she already has two others.

I told this story to a friend. “You mean your dog is, like, the American Taliban?”

“I guess so,” I responded. “So now I have to show her that Our Way Of Life is superior.”

She likes to lie down facing East several times a day. She has a “bed” which looks suspiciously like one of those prayer rugs they have in mosques. She doesn’t like to eat fruit, presumably on the grounds that such decadent Western blueberries are surely diverting praise from the One True God Allah and His Prophet Mohammed. And the fact that her previous owners named her Bella – that’s her slave name – makes me suspect even more that she must have been a terrorist of some type in her past. Sometime in the past year or so, I guess.

On the other hand, she’s been adjusting well to living in a secular home. She’s thwarted numerous attempts on my life so far, mostly from the UPS guy or the neighbors’ dogs. She’s eaten those imitation bacon treats which I’m pretty sure have some pork in them, even though the Koran explicitly forbids it. She’s even tried to edit some of the blasphemous, progressive stuff I’ve been writing lately, although I have to reject most of her ideas. Especially “=-,” which she pitches each time she jumps up on my chair.

Anyway, that’s what I’m doing to fight the War on Terror: adopting a extremist Muslim dog and helping her appreciate secular Western culture and values. And now with one less mujahideen beagle mutt, al Qaeda is surely defeated.

6 Fundamentalist Movies You Should Watch

July 3, 2011

Gates of Hell

I learned about this movie from Right Wing Watch, which is an organization that watches the right wing. And they watched the right wing pushing this movie, and it looks awesome.

Have you heard about how conservatives have been trying to sell African-Americans on the idea of being against legal abortion lately? They’re putting up these nutty billboards (some of which imply that blacks are a distinct species) and running goofy political ads on the radio. See, they’re not racist anymore! They’re really concerned about black babies and how letting black women have abortions is like genocide. And that breaks their hearts, They are very concerned about black people. That’s what they’re pushing. It reminds me of how neo-Nazis like David Duke will pretend to be so compassionate to the Palestinians, when in reality they’re clearly more motivated by hating Jews than anything else.

Anyway, since the billboards and radio ads can only do so much, they’ve decided to make a movie about their abortion/race war fantasies. In this movie, black people are finally convinced by the WorldNetDaily (Molotov Mitchell of WND is the executive producer of this movie) that abortion is really a racist genocidal conspiracy against black people. Nevermind that nobody’s forcing anyone to get an abortion these days, that doesn’t matter. The important thing is that if we don’t outlaw abortion, these scary BLACK guys are going to start shooting doctors and liberals and probably your mom, too. So you better do what they say already.

This movie also strives to solve a major public relations problem for the anti-abortion zealot community. I could be wrong on this, but I’m pretty sure that every single anti-abortion doctor-killer or attempted doctor-killer has been a honky. If you line up their mug shots in a row, it looks like what the Children of the Corn would be like if they were allowed to live past their 19th birthday. Gates of Hell seeks to racially diversify the hate-filled anti-abortion terrorist demographic. Since reality won’t do it for them, they’ll have to make a movie about how they wish black people acted when it comes to abortion, like how colleges Photoshop in Hispanic kids in wheelchairs on their homepages.

See, it’s not this guy who’s threatening those of us who want to keep abortion legal and safe:

Molotov Mitchell of WND has an impressive IMDB page

It’s THIS guy:

Gosh, I wonder why anyone ever though conservatives were racist?

The Life Zone

Bitches love Jesus... I'm gonna get those bitches some Jesus.

The Life Zone is a movie about women who were all having an abobo at the same time and were all kidnapped by some anti-choice terrorist good guys. So they lock al the women up in some underground dungeon and force them  to carry on with being preggo until the baby jumps out of her vagina or however that works.

Their captor is some shady old man who leers on as the younger nurse-lady makes sure their pregnancies are going in the exact opposite way the women wanted. They all talk about abortion and have fourth-grade level arguments about it. And at the end it turns out that they were all in Purgatory the whole time to make sure their unborn babies would be able to go up to Heaven. Yay for massive simultaneous deaths during routine medical procedures!

But one of the women tried to induce a miscarriage during her pregnancy because she still believed that abortion is pretty awesome, so she goes to Hell. And  so does the nurse-lady, because she also died recently from committing suicide. And oh yeah, the captor turns out to be Satan.

The director of this movie is a former Republican judge and politician from New Jersey who had to quit because he kept on promoting his movies from the bench. I heard rumors that he would oftentimes sentence people to watch his movies, much like how  the senile Judge Wapner now sentences us all to drink his root beer. Anyway, this guy has another movie you may want to check out called “O.B.A.M. Nude,” which is about how Barack Obama sold his soul to the devil while in college and in exchange was given some mysterious power to turn the world into a socialist paradise for Satan. So that’s where he’s coming from…

Left Behind I-III

I have only seen the first two movies in the Trilogy O’ Kirk (We hardcore fans call it TOK for short on internet forums), but then again I haven’t seen any of the movies I’ve mentioned so far. Hey, this is about movies you should see, not necessarily movies I should see.

So way back in the day, Jesus promised he would return at the side of God  to kick the asses of the non-believers. St. John or whichever crackhead wrote Revelation took that  premise from Jesus and ran with it, elaborating it into a D&D-ish apocalypse fantasy. In the mid-19th century, some pastors merged in some passages from 1 Thessalonians and rapture theology was born.

But the rapture never happened. This made fundamentalist Christian authors Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins very sad and frustrated. They wondered: What if it really did happen? Hey, maybe it will happen, like, really soon! Wouldn’t that be awesome? LaHaye and Jenkins were getting all excited just thinking about it!

So they wrote a book about it. Then they wrote a few more books about it, and a few more. And then Kirk Cameron was all like, “Dudes! Let’s make some of these shitty books into unwatchable, straight-to-DVD movies!” And so it came to pass.

Cameron’s character starts off as a reporter for “GNN” who’s trying to find out where all those missing people have gone. Some people start asking him if he’s considered believing they all went to Heaven for the rapture. He hadn’t, but he takes that belief system out for a test drive, buys it, and it works out pretty well for him. He’s told that if he can bring 10 friends and family members in to start selling Amway products Christianity themselves, then he can definitely expect to achieve financial independence in 3 easy steps go to Heaven the next time Jesus sweeps his favorite people up into the sky.

Buck Williams also discovers that the UN Secretary General is the antichrist. GNN has a strict disclosure policy for when you are reporting on someone you believe to be the antichrist, but it’s OK in this case because he can hide his anti-antichrist bias fairly well.

The way you get to activate antichrist mode in the Left Behind universe is to advocate peaceful solutions to the territorial disputes in the Gaza Strip. That’s what the UN SecGen does, and that’s how Buck finds him out. You see, when someone tries to settle international disputes in a non-violent way, that’s a sure sign that they’re evil. The Left Behind crowd can easily tell how good someone is by how many wars they wage. If only it worked the same way with the State of New York Department of Justice and drunken disorderly charges.

In the end I guess Kirk Cameron sneaks into the UN, gains the antichrist’s trust, and just kinda hangs out while God comes back to kick his ass. Because it’s not like either of them can do anything to change what’s going to happen. Supposedly this God person predetermined all of it. That takes a lot of suspense out of this trilogy. We all know there’s no chance the good guy will tragically (?) die after a cameo appearance by Cthulu. It’s just going to be Jesus guiding Mike Seaver through a fundie’s fever dream.

But there’s still lots to learn from Left Behind, especially in how these people view nonbelievers. Basically, they think we’re all extremely stupid and shallow, that the only reason we don’t believe is because if we did we’d all have to confess our sins and submit before the Jesus and we’re all just too proud for that scene. It doesn’t seem to occur to them that maybe we don’t believe because none of the miraculous events in the books and the movies have actually happened. This is all meant to be fiction, right?

But maybe not. If you read the newspapers and do a little free association here and make a few leaps of faith there, it’s possible to link real current events to all this ancient mythology the Left Behind groupies seem to be so obsessed over. And that’s where this stuff starts to get creepy.

Expelled!

Expelled! is a creationist propaganda movie. It also gets pretty far into conspiracy theories and Holocaust revisionism, but mainly this is about creationism.

The filmmakers told their interview subjects that they were making a documentary about the intersection between science and religion. This is how they got people like PZ Myers, Richard Dawkins, Michael Shermer, and Eugenie Scott of the National Center for Science Education to speak with them on camera. Obviously I don’t have any problem at all with this deceitful tactic since we at The BEAST do this kind of thing pretty regularly. The problem… well one of the problems with this movie is selective editing. This is very obvious when you watch the film because the cuts are so fast and awkward that it’s as if Michael J Fox did the editing the old-fashioned way with a razor after a few days off his meds.

According to Expelled!, evolution isn’t accepted by relevant experts because there’s a lot of evidence supporting it, but because there’s a massive worldwide conspiracy of scientists which controls with an iron fist all the peer review literature and all the important positions in relevant fields. So it’s the same premise used by pretty much every other goofy conspiracy theorist, with a twist: If you disagree with Stein and his friends at the Discovery Institute, you sir are a NAZI because this anti-God conspiracy goes all the way back to Nazi Germany.

Yes, as a matter of fact I do got mittens.

The National Center for Science Education has a website devoted to debunking Expelled!, if you’re interested in the details of why Ben Stein is wrong about everything. Maybe you should read that before watching the movie, just in case watching the movie first causes you to start reading about the science in Ben Stein’s voice.

Four Lions

These gentlemen represent an existential threat to our way of life.

I’m going to have to cheat a little with these last two movies which focus on Islam. The ones mentioned earlier were made by the true believers themselves, but here they are the subject. Did I cheat that way because I’m an uncouth American who needs the movies I watch to be westernized for me to appreciate? Probably!

Four Lions is actually about four humans who aren’t lions at all. But they are Muslim wannabe terrorists living in England and planning a suicide bombing for Allah. Hilarity ensues.

We have this disturbing way of looking at Muslim terrorists here in America. It’s the same way they probably see themselves: as a grave, existential threat to Western secular democracy on par with the fascists during World War II. And if you suggest that maybe they’re just a bunch of criminal but laughable idiots who sometimes succeed but usually fail hard, then you’re disrespecting their victims.

It’s a lot like how people still believe in conspiracy theories about John F Kennedy’s death in that when something terrible happens, we ascribe an amount of meaning proportional to the amount of misery it’s caused, even when that connection is not supported by the facts. We don’t like the idea of someone as esteemed as Kennedy being blown away by some down-and-out loser who’s been rejected even by the Soviet Union. It’s much more comforting to believe that he died for brave principles and that he was taken down by one or another shady cabal of evil people with lots of power. Everything seems less random and fragile that way, regardless of the facts.

And in the same way, we’d like for the ‘bad guys’ in the Post-9/11 World news narrative/Michael Bay movie to be not just genuinely bad guys. We want them to be absolutely demonic and with superhuman powers. We can’t have them in court because they might say something which will somehow transform normal, rational Americans into Islamic extremists who want to let Khalid Sheikh Mohammed walk around NYC and plan more terrorist attacks. Because people can do that kind of thing with mere words, apparently.

If you believe in that perception of al Qaeda and others like them, then Four Lions is completely heretical. And what’s funny is that it will outrage Muslim extremists themselves too, and for the same reasons. It just doesn’t take terrorism seriously enough! If you want to laugh at Islamic terrorism, do it in the wake of a drone’s airstrike. It’s for some reason blasphemous to laugh at them for being gullible, ineffectual morons with goofy beliefs and embarrassing, mundane, interpersonal relationship problems.

Oh yeah, they all die in the end.

The Infidel

In a way, The Infidel is a mirror-image opposite of Four Lions. While Four Lions focuses on the titular extremist characters who create humor by interacting with moderates, The Infidel’s main character Mahmud is a moderate Muslim who’s constantly befuddled by the extremist wackos he occasionally crosses paths with in his everyday life. His sister or cousin or someone is about to marry an extremist Muslim cleric he hates, and he’s gotta deal with that somehow. Even his own daughter randomly yells jihadist-y slogans about restoring the caliphate.

Then Mahmud finds out that he was adopted and that his parents were Jewish. So he’ll have to go through a crisis of identity where he learns how to say “Oy, vey” correctly and wear the tattered remains of a Yamaka he just burnt at a pro-Palestinian rally. And then there’s the matter of the radical cleric marrying into his (now Jewish, apparently) family. All this while poor ol’ Mahmud just wants to go on being a half-assed cultural Muslim who doesn’t go to the mosque or care much about politics, but loves to listen to cheesy 80s music and maybe has a drink every once in a while.

The reason you really should see this movie is because the next time some dickhead whines about how people are too afraid to mock Islam like they do Christianity, you can both watch this movie together and prove said dickhead wrong. The attacks on fundamentalist thinking in it are stronger than you’d get in a typical Christian-mocking movie or TV show, but it manages to raise serious concerns while keeping a sense of humor.

Violence at an Indonesian blasphemy trial

February 9, 2011

This article from the Jakarta Post is very short and concise, but it has an M Night Shayamalan-ish twist. Here’s the lede:

Violence broke out on Tuesday at a blasphemy trial in Temanggung, Central Java, immediately after prosecutors read out a five-year prison sentence demand for defendant Antonius Richmond Bawengan.

I was kind of hoping that this would mean the people watching the trial started attacking the prosecutors for suggesting such an absurd sentence for this “crime.” But here’s the twist:

Trial spectators suddenly attacked the defendant, prosecutors and judges, while a group of people outside the courtroom broke windows and set parked cars on fire, kompas.com reported Tuesday.

The fact that they attacked everyone instead of just one or the other side leads me to believe that they probably thought that five years in prison was too lenient of a sentence. Which is just so crazy that it makes me want to lie down for a while to let this headache pass.

Of course, it could just as easily be that the spectators weren’t a uniform group all sharing the same opinion. It was probably just a heated environment, which tends to happen when the government panders to idiots by keeping and enforcing ridiculous laws.

Pakistani politician assassinated by his own bodyguard over blasphemy

January 4, 2011

Salman Taseer was the governor of Pakistan’s most populous state from 2008 until he was shot and killed today. The main suspect is Malik Mumtaz Hussain Qadri, an elite security guard who police say was angry at Taseer over his opposition to Pakistan’s anti-blasphemy legislation. Here is the law in question from Pakistan’s criminal code:

Whoever, with the deliberate intention of wounding the religious feelings of any person, utters any word or makes any sound in the hearing of that person or makes any gesture in the sight of that person or places any object in the sight of that person, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to one year, or with fine, or with both.
-§ 298

§ 298 then elaborates into some of the details, and there’s also more in § 295. The punishments vary from a fine up to death. It’s strange that there’s such a wide range since none of the specifics seem like they should be crimes at all: drawing Mohammed or defaming him, proselytizing for the wrong version of Islam, defiling the Qu’ran, stuff like that.

The death penalty associated with blasphemy in Pakistan has never actually been carried out. So when ignorant people like Qadri get worked up over efforts to reform these kinds of backwoods laws, they’re not necessarily looking for the government to actually execute people accused blasphemers because, after all, they never did. What they get out of it is a society where vigilantism and witch hunts are within social norms. You won’t automatically attract ridicule by making an offhand comment about how the Ahmadiyya should be persecuted because the law and the government are on your side, after all. But if they’re not, then it’s just that much more difficult to popularize an intolerant point of view.

Killing for God in Pakistan

December 15, 2010

Naushad Valiyani, a doctor in Pakistan, is being held on blasphemy charges. Usually these kinds of charges are used for some nonreligious reason, similar to how sex and drug charges can be used to target political dissidennts in the West, and this case is not an exception to that rule. From The Independent:

The case began when Muhammad Faizan, a pharmaceutical representative, gave Mr Valiyani his business card. When the doctor threw it away, Mr Faizan filed a complaint, noting that his name was the same as the Prophet’s.

Wow, and we thought “Big Pharma” in America was bad. At least they’re not trying to get doctors killed for ignoring their sales pitches.

According to the source of all knowledge, Pakistani law makes blasphemy a crime punishable by death and a fine. They’re probably just trying to cover the cost of the bullet.

Similar:

Killing for God in India

December 8, 2010

From the Washington Post:

NEW DELHI – A bomb blast in the Hindu holy city of Varanasi, during the height of the daily sunset prayer ceremony Tuesday, injured at least 32 people and killed a 2-year-old child, officials said. Authorities said the blast was a terrorist attack.

One of the survivors later took to the Twitter in order to blast the Supreme God in the Vaishnavite tradition of Hinduism Vishnu for its negligence:

Yes, that is still funny. I have decreed it so.

A group called Indian Mujaheddin claimed responsibility, calling it retaliation over a court ruling dividing some “holy” site between Muslims and Hindus. Indian authorities aren’t sure if it’s homegrown or based in Pakistan. Either way it’s fueled a partisan divide between the ruling party in India and their own equivalent to our teabaggers:

A spokesman for the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, which leads the opposition, blamed the bombings on what they said was the government’s lax attitude toward terrorism and expressed anger that the holy Hindu city, often called the Hindu Mecca or Indian Jerusalem, was targeted.

For those who don’t remember (i.e. everyone reading this), I called the Bharatiya Janata Party the equivalent to our teabaggers because they’re a pretty extreme right-wing political party who last year went on a crusade against single women drinking in pubs, which then evoked a hilarious international response.

In the dreary tradition of religious stories that appear here, there’s pretty much no protagonists here. Indian Mujaheddin – well, obviously fuck them. The victims, they’ll probably keep believing in and worshiping deities which apparently stood by and watched while people actively praying to them were targeted by a rival faction of superstitious morons. And even the ones taking the most hard-line position against the terrorists are only doing so in order to defend their own superstition and to make political hay of it.

Asia Bibi

November 10, 2010

OK so there’s this Christian woman in Pakistan named Asia Bibi. She is a Christian and a mother of five.

You can probably already see where this is going. She’s been sentenced to death by hanging for the “crime” of blaspheming the alleged prophet of Islam.

Based on the article, it’s not entirely clear how she was supposed to have blasphemed Mohammed. Bibi is denying it. But everyone seems to agree on a few facts. Bibi worked as a farmhand with other women who happened to be Muslim. She was sent to get some water. But when she returned, some of the women decided that they didn’t want to drink the water since it was brought to them by a non-Muslim and was therefore “unclean.”

The funny thing about that is that I can’t seem to find any basis for this way of defining unclean water according to Islam. Apparently water is clean according to Islam as long as there is at least 191.24 litres of it even when it’s contaminated by blood, shit, piss, dog saliva, and most dead animals – as long as those impurities don’t change the taste or color of the “water.”

Another weird part of this is how none Bibi’s co-workers seemed to object to the impure water until after she brought it back from wherever she got it. Anyway, everyone forgot about the incident for a few days, and then a mob started yelling about how Bibi spoke ill of Mohammed. This all happened about a year ago. Bibi’s reportedly been held in isolation since then. The courts convicted her yesterday, and now she’s sentenced to death by hanging.

If executed, Bibi will be the first death penalty case carried out under Pakistan’s anti-blasphemy laws.

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The Taliban is on the side of the anti-“Ground Zero Mosque” protesters

September 2, 2010

One of my first posts on this blog when I started it about a year ago quoted the Washington Independent on the issue of pre-emptive detention:

“We appreciate that the United States has security concerns about Yemen, but continuing to hold these men without charge is morally wrong, is in violation of court orders, and it’s handing al-Qaeda a recruiting tool,” said Letta Taylor, a researcher for Human Rights Watch…”

Later I wrote about Anwar al-Awlaki and how President Obama authorized his assassination, even if he’s found to be outside of any battlefield in which the US military is engaged. Here’s one of the problems I had with that policy:

And what’s more is that the perceived positive effects of such an assassination are pretty unlikely to actually happen. It’s not going to destabilize al Qaeda. If anything it’d give them a martyr and a recruiting mantra.

And later I wrote about a NY Times piece by Nicholas Krystoff on the cost and allocation of resources in the Afghanistan war:

Some other comparisons of costs really bring home the waste of the military occupation of Afghanistan. The money spent on deploying a single soldier there could be used to build 20 schools. A single cruise missile’s price tag is equivalent to 11 schools. And really, which is more corrosive to fundamentalist Islam: Cruise missiles that kill families and give recruiting slogans to al Qaeda, or education?

So there’s this recurring theme here. The policies which are based on this idea of a culture war between the Muslim world and the West are in the interests of the fringe elements of Islam which want to escalate this global conflict. Radical Muslim terrorist networks actually like it when US foreign policy fits with their demonization of all Americans. It gives their propaganda an element of truth which the average potential suicide bomber on the street can relate to. It bridges the gap between those with legitimate grievances regarding American foreign policy and our support for autocratic regimes in the Middle East and the committed religious fanatics who would hate the evil secular Americans no matter what. And now this same phenomenon of appeasing the terrorists by adopting short-sighted, emotionally-fueled, reactionary policies is applying to our domestic policies, specifically in the case of the Park 51 Islamic cultural center near Ground Zero. From Newsweek:

“By preventing this mosque from being built, America is doing us a big favor,” Taliban operative Zabihullah tells NEWSWEEK. (Like many Afghans, he uses a single name.) “It’s providing us with more recruits, donations, and popular support.”

Zabihullah speculates about an increase in potential future attacks, but you don’t even need to depend on those kinds of predictions to see the effect this “controversy” is having on the Afghan public. Apparently the effect is already apparent:

Zabihullah also claims that the issue is such a propaganda windfall—so tailor-made to show how “anti-Islamic” America is—that it now heads the list of talking points in Taliban meetings with fighters, villagers, and potential recruits. “We talk about how America tortures with waterboarding, about the cruel confinement of Muslims in wire cages in Guantánamo, about the killing of innocent women and children in air attacks—and now America gives us another gift with its street protests to prevent a mosque from being built in New York,” Zabihullah says. “Showing reality always makes the best propaganda.”

Zabihullah’s coldness in how he reacts with joy to such atrocities definitely fits with the popular perception of how radical Muslims don’t care about human life. So it’s difficult to see why this connection is so rarely made, especially amongst US policymakers. Our enemies won’t be deterred by idiotic protesters trying to stop the community center of death. That just encourages them. They care more about the great mosque in the sky than they do about the average NYC Muslims looking for a place to go on Fridays, whom the radical Muslims view as too liberal, assimilated, and Americanized for their tastes anyways.

Evil genie possesses young adult, father forced to lock him in basement for six years

July 26, 2010

The only news source I can find on this story is the notoriously awful Daily Fail so this should be taken with a grain of salt, I guess. From the Daily Mail:

A Saudi man has been chained in a basement apartment for more than six years because his father believes he is possessed by an evil female genie.

The victim here is referred to as Turki, and he’s 29. His father – who’s unnamed in the article for some bizarre reason – claims that he went into convulsions where his eyes went completely white. It sounds like he was having some kind of a seizure and his eyes rolled back.

At first his father took him to a mosque so that some clerics could read the Koran at him. Then Turki started speaking in a female voice, telling him that he was a Jinn and that the only way to exorcise him was to kill Turki. The clerics had a better idea: chain Turki up in the basement and continue reading the Koran at him. And that’s what his father did.

It’s funny how these specific kinds of demonic possessions only seem to happen where the culture is already immersed in stories about them. Why don’t Jinns ever seem to possess Canadians or Norwegians? You would think that this might give pause to people like this unfortunate guy’s father, or even the clerics. The Daily Fail even accidentally offers some further insight on this issue:

Turki’s father claimed he himself was afflicted by a jinn at the age of nine and suffered for more than four decades until it was exorcised by a cleric.
‘I used to see a woman who would at times appear very beautiful and at times extremely ugly,’ he said.

It sounds a lot like those people who would say that they had been abducted by UFOs and then years later the aliens would come back for their children. But those alleged abductions seem to be more of an American phenomenon. It never seems to happen in Saudi Arabia. There you get Jinn possessions instead. And we never seem to get Jinn possessions here in America.

Again, that should give pause to the people making these claims. They should explore the possibility that all of the various mythical interpretations are wrong, and that the victims here are experiencing some kind of natural, earthly phenomenon. And the best way to explore those kinds of problems is with a medical doctor and not ignorant peddlers of superstition.

Everybody must get stoned

July 7, 2010

This is just a very depressing story and I really don’t even know how to find a joke in it. Apparently that power belongs only to Monty Python.

In Iran, they of course have capital punishment. And there are still some pretty brutal practices used, even within the context of capital punishment. Unlike in Utah, the convict doesn’t get to choose to use an older means. Even in that case, the convict chose to die by firing squad, which only goes back at most as long as we’ve had guns.

But in Iran, they occasionally use methods of capital punishment which go back literally to the Stone Age. In Islamic criminal jurisprudence, stoning or lapidation is called Rajm. Typically, the victim (when female, such as is the case here) is buried up to their chest and then people throw rocks at them until they’re dead. The rocks are supposed to be smaller than one’s fist, which reduces the chances that the victim will receive a mercifully quick fatal blow. The punishment as it’s applied for adultery is prescribed in Islam in the Hadith, Book 17, Number 4192:

[W]henever Allah’s Apostle received revelation, he felt its rigour and the complexion of his face changed. One day revelation descended upon him, he felt the same rigour. When it was over and he felt relief, he said: Take from me. Verily Allah has ordained a way for them (the women who commit fornication),: (When) a married man (commits adultery) with a married woman, and an unmarried male with an unmarried woman, then in case of married (persons) there is (a punishment) of one hundred lashes and then stoning (to death). And in case of unmarried persons, (the punishment) is one hundred lashes and exile for one year.

Now fast forward to the present day and we have the case of Sakineh Mohammadie Ashtiani, a Turkish-speaking mother of two from the northern Iranian city of Tabriz who was convicted of adultery in 2006. Human rights attorney Mohammed Mostafaei claims that Ashtiani’s confession to adultery may have been due to language barriers, since she does not speak Farsi. If that’s true, then it would echo the case of Fawza Falih, an illiterate women who was coerced to sign a confession to being guilty of “witchcraft” by the Saudi Arabian Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, a.k.a. the “religious police” – a confession which, of course, she could not even read. The religious police refused to even read the accusations to her in that case.

Amnesty International is pushing hard against this miscarriage of justice, but as far as the Iranian courts are concerned it’s a done deal. Sakineh Mohammadie Ashtiani could be stoned to death at any minute. The only thing that could prevent it is a ginormous international campaign on her behalf, which even in the case of Iran is not unprecedented. Maybe it’s not plausible to expect the Iranian government to have a deconversion experience and suddenly realize that their legal system is bullshit and based on ridiculous mythology, but at least we can maybe help out the most egregious victims one at a time.

UPDATE: Sakineh Mohammadie Ashtiani will not be stoned to death, but she still faces the death penalty for adultery.

UPDATE II: The Iranian government has banned the media from covering this case.

UPDATE III: The Guardian reports Ashtiani’s cellmate’s account of the initial verdict.

UPDATE IV: The President of Brazil has made a call to grant asylum to Ashtiani. I have not yet heard of a similar call made by our President, unfortunately.

UPDATE V: Iran’s government rejected President da Silva’s offer.

UPDATE VI: The International Committee Against Stoning is reporting that Ashtiani’s attorney was arrested in Turkey yesterday

UPDATE VII: Ashtiani is now facing 99 lashes for indecency because a newspaper published a picture of her without her headscarf.

UPDATE VIII: The secretary general of Iran’s High Council for Human Rights said that there is a “good chance” that Ashtiani will not be executed.

UPDATE IX: A German group is reporting that Ashtiani is free, but the Iranian government has not yet confirmed.

UPDATE X: The Iranian government released a video of Ashtiani confessing to her husband’s murder, which they claim is “contrary to a vast publicity campaign by Western media that confessed murderer Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani has been released.”

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Earthquakes, Iran, & Boobs

April 24, 2010

This should kind of make some sort of sense by the end of this post

The first funny thing about earthquakes and Iran comes from that country’s always hilariously unhinged figurehead, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. You see, he is worried about earthquakes in Iran’s capitol city. This is a reasonable concern since Tehran in on a major fault line. But his response to it, well, it’s not so reasonable because lol Ahmadinejad. From the Telegraph:

“We cannot order people to evacuate the city… but provisions have to be made. At least five million should leave Tehran so it is less crowded and more manageable in case of an incident,” Mehr news agency quoted him as saying.

No big deal, right? Just 5 million or so. It’s kind of like moving half of New York City to Albany. Those other 7 million people are probably all assholes anyway, I guess.

In most modern countries, cities on a fault line compensate for the risk by improving building codes, monitoring problematic areas, educating the public on how best to respond, that sort of thing. But Iran’s President seems to want to move toward a more drastic route. To find out why he sees the matter as so incredibly urgent right at this point in time, we might do well to see how his religious leaders may have influenced him.

And as it turns out, this very well could be the case. An imam called Ayatollah Kazem Sedighi had a few insights based on his up-to-date study of geology which is apparently contained completely within the Koran. Let’s see what he has to say about all this. From the Telegraph:

“Many women who dress inappropriately … cause youths to go astray, taint their chastity and incite extramarital sex in society, which increases earthquakes,” [Sedighi] told worshippers at a Tehran prayer service late last week.

Ahmadinejad’s position as president of Iran is more of a secular one than his official clerics. So as a ‘practical’ politician, he’s going to hedge his bets on whether or not Allah will be merciful (6:54, among other places, in the Koran) and try to get 5,000,000 people to just up and move to the sticks… Just as a Plan B in case of the extremely unlikely scenario where Sedighi’s plan to dress women as beekeepers actually doesn’t reduce the amount of earthquakes.

Anyway, Jennifer McCreight, a grad student at Perdue (for full disclosure, I should probably mention that she’s also on the same atheist blogroll as me, which is linked to in the sidebar to the right), decided to carry out an experiment since the good Imam’s claim seemed testable. She calls it Boobquake, but I prefer the National Day of Cleavage. She’s inviting women to dress immodestly this Monday (April 26) and then will analyze seismic readings from around the world in order to see if there are any statistically significant deviations which could confirm or falsify Sedighi’s hypothesis inre: boobs/earthquakes.

There’s also a Facebook page, and as Jennifer’s been getting tons of press for this it’s gotten pretty popular. NY Magazine, the NY Post, the Times of India, and CNN have covered this, and that’s only after a minute of searching.

Pascal’s Wager

March 16, 2010

There is no news in this post. I just thought I would bulk up the counter-apologetics here since I maybe haven’t been doing my share lately as a member of the atheist blogroll. And a good way to do that would be to start with something pretty simple and then work my way through to more complicated shit later. So if you’re looking for the usual making fun of the news thing or something you don’t already know about Pascal’s Wager, then it’s probably best to skip this one.

Blaise Pascal was a religious apologist, mathematician, and philosopher in 17th century France. The way that he wrote it out, at least as I read it, his famous wager is more of a pep talk for people who are already Christians and might be starting to doubt. He didn’t mean for it to be an actual reason to believe for someone who’s starting from a position of doubt. You have to already be a believer in a specific religion for it to have an effect.

Here is how the guy himself put it:

Endeavour then to convince yourself, not by increase of proofs of God, but by the abatement of your passions. You would like to attain faith, and do not know the way; you would like to cure yourself of unbelief, and ask the remedy for it. Learn of those who have been bound like you, and who now stake all their possessions. These are people who know the way which you would follow, and who are cured of an ill of which you would be cured. Follow the way by which they began; by acting as if they believed, bless yourself with holy water, have Masses said, and so on; by a simple and natural process this will make you believe, and will dull you—will quiet your proudly critical intellect…

Now, what harm will befall you in taking this side? You will be faithful, honest, humble, grateful, generous, a sincere friend, truthful. Certainly you will not have those poisonous pleasures, glory and luxury; but will you not have others? I will tell you that you will thereby gain in this life, and that, at each step you take on this road, you will see so great certainty of gain, so much nothingness in what you risk, that you will at last recognize that you have wagered for something certain and infinite, for which you have given nothing.

There’s a very good reason why this doesn’t work for convincing skeptics, but it does for wavering believers. The believers don’t consider any of the world’s other religions and their promises of similar certainties of gain and risks of nothingness. So it’s necessary for this to work to already have a bias towards one faith over all others.

It’s actually even worse than Dawkins here makes it seem. If you’re just conducting a theological cost/benefit analysis, then other some other religions promise even greater potential harm for unbelief and greater rewards for devotion than Pascal’s own Catholicism.

So for example if you’re worried about going to the Pascal’s Catholic hell and the threat of it is enough to convince you to believe, then you should be even more influenced by the threat of Islamic hell:

“Verily Allah has cursed the Unbelievers and prepared for them a Blazing Fire,- To dwell therein for ever: no protector will they find, nor helper.”
Qu’ran, 33:64-5

So we’ll get blazing fire,

“Those who reject our Signs, We shall soon cast into the Fire: as often as their skins are roasted through, We shall change them for fresh skins, that they may taste the penalty: for Allah is Exalted in Power, Wise.”
Qu’ran, 4:56

BUT we get to exchange our skins so we don’t get roasted over and over and over again forever,

“Nay they deny the hour (of the judgment to come): but We have prepared a blazing fire for such as deny the hour: When it sees them from a place fAr off, they will hear its fury and its ranging sigh. And when they are cast, bound together into a constricted place therein, they will pLead for destruction there and then! This day plead not for a single destruction: plead for destruction oft-repeated!”
Qu’ran, 25:11-14

“With Us are Fetters (to bind them), and a Fire (to burn them)”
Qu’ran, 73:12

binding chains and binding yokes,

“The Companions of the Left Hand,- what will be the Companions of the Left Hand? (They will be) in the midst of a Fierce Blast of Fire and in Boiling Water”
Qu’ran, 56:41-2

boiling water,

“Hell!- they will burn therein, – an evil bed (indeed, to lie on)!- Yea, such! – then shall they taste it,- a boiling fluid, and a fluid dark, murky, intensely cold!- And other Penalties of a similar kind, to match them!”
Qu’ran, 38:56-8

dark boiling liquid,

“But those who deny (their Lord),- for them will be cut out a garment of Fire: over their heads will be poured out boiling water. With it will be scalded what is within their bodies, as well as (their) skins. In addition there will be maces of iron (to punish) them. Every time they wish to get away therefrom, from anguish, they will be forced back therein, and (it will be said), ‘Taste ye the Penalty of Burning!'”
Qu’ran, 22:19-22

iron maces,

“The while they enter the Blazing Fire, the while they are given, to drink, of a boiling hot spring, No food will there be for them but a bitter Dhari’ which will neither nourish nor satisfy hunger.”
Qu’ran, 88:4-7

painful food and boiling water,

Narrated An-Nu’man:
I heard the Prophet saying, “The person who will have the least punishment from amongst the Hell Fire people on the Day of Resurrection, will be a man under whose arch of the feet a smoldering ember will be placed so that his brain will boil because of it.”
Sahih Bukhari 8:76:566

BUT if you’re LUCKY you’ll only be scorched from the arch of your foot to your head,

Narrated Abu Wail:
Somebody said to Usama, “Will you go to so-and-so (i.e. ‘Uthman) and talk to him (i.e. advise him regarding ruling the country)?” He said, “You see that I don’t talk to him. Really I talk to (advise) him secretly without opening a gate (of affliction), for neither do I want to be the first to open it (i.e. rebellion), nor will I say to a man who is my ruler that he is the best of all the people after I have heard something from Allah s Apostle .” They said, What have you heard him saying? He said, “I have heard him saying, “A man will be brought on the Day of Resurrection and thrown in the (Hell) Fire, so that his intestines will come out, and he will go around like a donkey goes around a millstone. The people of (Hell) Fire will gather around him and say: O so-and-so! What is wrong with you? Didn’t you use to order us to do good deeds and forbid us to do bad deeds? He will reply: Yes, I used to order you to do good deeds, but I did not do them myself, and I used to forbid you to do bad deeds, yet I used to do them myself.”
Sahih Bukhari 4:54:489

and oh yeah, some of us end up getting eviscerated. I’ll be a little more merciful here and spare the reader from having to look at a picture of that.

Dante seems like a total pussy by comparison. And pretty much all the Bible tells us about Hell is that it’s a place where worms don’t die and the fire is never quenched. So if your motivating factor in deciding on a religion is to avoid the worst possible pain, it’s much better to believe in Islam and possibly avoid the worst kind of hell even if you’re wrong. And if Christianity is true, you still end up taking less of a risk of going to Christian hell rather than the Islamic one.

The other side of this bet-hedging is to believe in a religion that promises the best afterlife for believers. A desirable heaven is the carrot to a painful hell’s stick. And one of the best afterlifes you can get is in Mormon theology.

The Church of Latter-Day Saints believe in something called Degrees of glory. You’ve basically got four possibilities for what happens after you die: Outer Darkness, the Celestial Kingdom, the Terrestrial Kingdom, and the Telestial Kingdom.

Outer Darkness sounds a lot like Billy Graham’s concept of hell – one where you just die and are separated from God instead of the fiery one preached about during the Middle Ages and by people like the Westboro Baptist Church today. That’s for people with no degree of glory at all. The worst possible punishment for Mormons turns out to be… nothing. Even non-Christians can have some degree of glory and get one of the other three kingdoms.

The next step up from the Outer Darkness is the Telestial Kingdom (the terminology here really sounds like it’s for LARPers, doesn’t it? Not that I’d know anything about that, of course). Nonbelievers and heathens and “liars, and sorcerers, and adulterers, and whoremongers, and whosoever loves and makes a lie,” according to Doctrine and Covenants, 76:103.  However, those of us in the Telestial Kingdom – and let’s face it, if you’re reading this it applies to you – will have to go to hell for 1000 years during the millennial reign of Christ prophesied in Revelation 20:1-6.

But on an eternal time scale, a thousand years in hell isn’t really that bad when you get an immortal physical body afterwards, along with all your other friends and without all those holier-than-thou assholes fucking up your kingdom. Not too bad for the lowest of the kingdoms, really.

The next kingdom up is the Terrestrial Kingdom, and you can get there by becoming a Mormon posthumously (D&C, 76:74) or by being a  Christian who is not “valiant” enough (D&C, 76:9). Basically these are half-assed Christians whose only inconvenience is in knowing that there’s a slightly better kingdom out there somewhere.

That brings us to the Celestial Kingdom, which is the SHIT. This is the best of the best heavens, and you even get your very own seer stone. The downside is that in order to get there you need to have either followed all of the LDS church’s rules throughout your first life or have died before turning 8 years old. So this is pretty much out for those of you who might still be reading this.

To get back to the point of all this Mormon stuff; if you’re using Pascal’s Wager in terms of analyzing potential benefits in a particular religion, this is clearly the way to go especially considering the information conveyed in the video above. You get to be a deity. Is a better pick up line even possible?

So if you’re a risk-taking, glass-half-full type, you’ll hear Pascal’s Wager and convert to the LDS church. If you’re a risk-averse, glass-half-empty type, you’ll hear Pascal’s Wager and convert to Islam. I could go on and on pointing out how different religions can exploit various hopes and fears of different types of people, but for now it’s enough to leave it here where it’s clear that Pascal’s Wager can be used to proselytize for pretty much all religions, most of which are completely contradictory.

You can't go to both.

Up to this point, I hope I’ve established two things. One is that Pascal’s Wager isn’t a way to know anything. It’s only a way to reassure those who already believe. And secondly, when modern apologists and laypersons unsuccessfully misuse Pascal’s Wager in attempts to convince skeptics, they are using an inherent bias in that their particular religion is correct even though the same approach can be used just as easily to persuade skeptics to adhere to completely different religions.

Now after being faced with all this, someone advocating Pascal’s Wager can take a step back and claim that it applies to belief in a deistic god. That way they can use the wager as a wedge strategy and later take baby steps to their own belief system, much like the strategy used by some creationists who want their bullshit to count as science.

When I was a kid, maybe around 9 years old, I had thought of this. Obviously it wasn’t in the same terms I’m using now. I thought I had invented it and that I was some kind of genius. I would sneak by The System and be able to pass for a believer just by my own say-so! But then a few minutes later I had an experience similar to one I later read about described by Bertrand Russell:

“I had gone out to buy a tin of tobacco, and was going back with it along Trinity Lane, when I suddenly threw it up in the air and exclaimed: “Great God in Boots! — the ontological argument is sound!””

But later, Russell had this to say about the same argument – which is one I hope to have time to deal with at some point in the future:

“The [ontological] argument [for the existence of God] does not, to a modern mind, seem very convincing, but it is easier to feel convinced that it must be fallacious than it is to find out precisely where the fallacy lies.”

That’s kind of what I felt like. Pretending to believe seemed like too easy of a fix. Even as a kid, I was already a crotchety old man thinking that if something seems too good to be true it probably is.

Pascal’s Wager doesn’t even make sense when dealing with a nondescript deity because a god by definition would know the difference between professing to believe something and actually believing it. Even as a dumb little kid I could tell the difference. It just all seemed too easy. Even if I could fool every Buddhist monk or Christian preacher or whatever else, I would still be able to tell that I was lying about my belief. And since a god is supposed to be much more intelligent than a human, it would immediately see through my plan and probably punish me for my heresy even more severely than the typical honest doubter.

I’m going to have to leave it there for now because this has already gone on way longer than I expected. Maybe I’ll have to do a part ii of this later on.

Fuck Louis Farrakhan

March 2, 2010

If you want to take the title as endorsement of the violent rape of the Nation of Islam leader, I can’t stop you from interpreting that way. From the Associated Press:

“The word ‘prophet’ is too cheap a word. I am a light in the midst of darkness,” Farrakhan said at the annual convention of the movement that embraces black nationalism. “It ain’t ego, it’s my love for you.”

Get that? He’s not egotistical at all. Farrakhan being a “light in the midst of darkness” is really just about his love for others, and not about his ego. Because his love for you is just that special, which itself is also not egotistical. How dare you suggest such a thing?

Farrakhan spent most of the fiery nearly four-hour speech recounting a 1985 vision he had in Mexico. Farrakhan has often described how he believes he was invited aboard an unidentified flying object he calls “the wheel” where he said he heard the late Nation of Islam leader Elijah Muhammad speak to him.

Putting the UFO aside for a minute, a four hour speech? Really? Is that necessary? Hasn’t this deity punished people enough? I’m no big fan of the soundbite culture but sitting around listening to this nonsense for four fucking hours has got to qualify as cruel and unusual punishment. Concision can be a good thing sometimes.

And plus I love it when these guys use this kind of synergy of woo. It’s not enough for this to just be about talking to dead people, or for it to just be about a UFO abduction, or for it to just be about seeing the future (Farrakhan claims this incident “led him to inklings of future events,” in the language of the article cited above); it has to be about all of them at once. And it’s not even just those things, because he also seems to think that the Chilean earthquake is an indication of future political problems for Obama. Oh yeah, also white people are plotting against him, too. Nice.

UPDATE: The Young Turks reported on this (after me):

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Republican politician wants to appease al Qaeda

February 15, 2010

For some reason the Missouri State Senate was debating the pros and cons of ending the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy. I’m pretty sure the state senate couldn’t really do anything one way or another about a policy of the national military except for maybe limiting the number of state National Guard troops in Missouri or by passing nonbinding resolutions. So this is probably just a way for local politicians to cater to one or another demographic and they’re using this issue as a way of campaigning, even though it’s ultimately meaningless to their actual jobs.

Gary Nodler, a Republican state senator from some place called Joplin made a pretty revealing point. Both al Qaeda and his fellow Republicans would be VERY OFFENDED if we allowed the gays to serve openly in the military, and this would make our enemies RetardStrong and therefore put our troops in great danger. The reporter of this story doesn’t directly quote Nodler, but here is his paraphrase of his position:

“Nodler’s argument: The Muslim nations of Iraq and Afghanistan, where America is fighting two wars, are opposed to homosexuality. Changing “Don’t ask, don’t tell” would offend the terrorists in such a way that could put soldiers — and America — at risk of further terrorist attacks.”

If this is Nodler’s argument, there’s no reason it can’t be  extended even further. For instance, al Qaeda is offended that our military doesn’t only allow Muslims in it. Therefore we should force all soldiers to convert to Islam because if we don’t it might offend the terrorists and motivate them to attack us. Maybe we should make women wear burqas while we’re at it so it doesn’t offend terrorists. If only we were to just appease them totally, this war could be over. Appeasement always works, right?