philosoraptor42: (Fatpie42)

*Mild/Moderate Trigger Warning* This discussion of misogyny and the damsel in distress trope may inevitably be triggering for some readers as it discusses power-imbalances and some violent or abusive scenarios. That said, there is no use of graphic descriptions nor any reference to sexual violence.

The post below is going to analyse some bigotry against Anita from Feminist Frequency. She has released the first of her "Tropes Vs Women" series about videogames now. Personally, I was unsure about some of the stuff about Starfox Adventures (since I cannot help but imagine that the character change in that game must be somewhat related to Microsoft buying Rare - since it would be harder for Nintendo to keep hold of a game not starring one of their copyrighted group of characters), but asides from that I was mainly reacting with "ah, I guess that's right".

Inevitably there's been some backlash. One of the videos criticising Anita (and undoubtedly NOT one of the best critiques she'll receive) comes from a Youtube user called Thunderf00t....

Now it's been a while since I've been made really angry by some bigoted ranting. I've reacted to some news articles, sure, but I've generally not been chasing down internet idiots. I've been a lot better off for it though.

The last idiot I really thought I needed to alert people to was Pat Condell. Condell was seemingly only known on the internet, but he seemed to have a wide following. So when his videos went from annoying and crass to all-out hate-mongering, I felt the need to expose precisely why people shouldn't support him. (He's still up to the same old tricks it seems. One of his latest videos claims that it's racist not to consider all Palestinians, every man, woman and child of them, to be evil terrorists. That's pretty typical rhetoric from him sadly.)

But the recent dodgy internet hatred doesn't seem to come from a single person. Instead it seems to be embodied by a large gang of mostly libertarian internet users who are strangely opposed to feminism and demand protection from criticism if they post offensive comments (on the grounds of 'free speech' apparently).

"Thunderf00t" seems to be a pretty big ringleader of this group. By this point Thunderf00t is pretty well known to be someone your average decent supporter of feminism will be upset by, but he attracts a lot of attention so I feel like he's probably as good a representative as any for this disgusting internet misogyny recently.

First of all some background...

Thunderf00t and Freethoughtblogs

Thunderf00t had a run-in with well known pro-feminism atheist blogger P.Z. Myers (who runs the blog Pharyngula) who is disinclined to accept misogyny, racism, homophobia, etc. on his comments threads. When Thunderf00t was offered space in Freethoughtblogs and decided to use it almost entirely to dismiss women's rights the other bloggers on Freethoughtblogs decided that he wasn't fitting in. He was alienating their female audience and conveying bigoted views with which Freethoughtblogs bloggers did not want to be connected.

Anita's "Tropes Vs Women" series

Anita used Kickstarter to get funding for her project to analyse the history of gaming and the portrayal of women within videogames. The comments at Kickstarter began to fill up with misogynistic comments from utter scumbags and the response by decent human beings across the internet was to donate huge amounts of money to her project. The misogynist comments had made it very clear to everyone just how much of an idol videogames were to these horrible individuals and just how sorely the world of videogames needed to be analysed from a feminist perspective.

Thunderf00t's video "Feminism Vs FACTS (RE Damsel in distress)" and how it completely misses the point of Anita's original video at Feminist Frequency, feminism as a whole, and plain old common sense.

I only came to watch Thunderf00t's poor attempt at a critique because I stumbled on someone showing one of his old videos "The Internet: Where Religions Come To Die". Not knowing it was from Thunderf00t I approached it with a pretty open mind. There were parts that were well-argued and other parts where it was more obviously labouring the point. I noticed that the video seemed to have a very "us and them" stance which appeared to represent the vlogger's genuine stance rather than being a rhetorical tool.

1- Double Dragon Neon

Thunderf00t's latest video begins by questioning Anita's research for her videogame critique. He argues that she is wrong to claim the damsel in distress of the game "Double Dragon Neon" is portrayed as weak, ineffective or ultimately incapable because the game finishes with her punching the villain in the crotch.

While this might seem like a reasonable argument to someone who had never watched the original video, already Thunderf00t is showing a clear failure to understand Anita's argument. Anita's concern with "Double Dragon Neon" mainly focusses on the opening which, as an update of an older game, rejigs the 8-bit classic by showing the damsel in distress character being punched in the gut and carried away in deeper colours, pristine 2D graphics with her cleavage clearly visable as she is punched and her knickers clearly visible as she is carried away. This update of the older classic begins straight away with an utterly demeaning image for women, right before introducing the two MALE playable characters.

The ending where she gets to help beat up the villain in the end is earned after the two male characters have spent the entire game trying to save her, while she sits and waits for them. There's even a part of the game where the two playable MALE characters (since Marian herself is NOT a playable character) can fight for her affection, while she cheers them on in the background. This all serves to back up the idea of women as objects the male characters compete for. Yes, even if the unplayable female character gets to help deliver the finishing blow at the last minute, she's still been completely helpless for the whole game and used as a woman-shaped trophy by the game designers.

Read more... )

Thunderf00t simply doesn't understand the topic he is trying to discuss and yet there are internet misogynists rallying around his video which now has over 10,000 likes. Meanwhile Anita has had no choice but to disable ratings and comments because of an over-abundance of misogynistic trolls. Check out her excellent analysis of the Damsel In Distress trope in videogames below:

(video link)
philosoraptor42: (Default)
People here may remember a relatively recent post where I pointed out a blog entry from a priest/teacher about how utterly untrustworthy the British tabloids are. There's been a follow up post about a story which seems to be making the rounds on the internet right now.

The point is that before we get on our high horse about a particular story it is worth being sure of the details first. If we're not careful we might well find ourselves being drawn into a political agenda which we would otherwise have given a wide berth.

This isn't only true of Islamist/Islamophobia stories. Pat Condell has provided a nice little alternative example recently of what he views as "PC gone mad" regarding racism against the Irish.

The Internet, the Tabloids and the murky world of misinformation

I have a couple of friends who send me stuff from the INTERNET that they receive from other friends. I usually pass them on too. Many of them are very funny, showing the infinite stupidity of humanity; others are very clever and creative and some, Dear Reader, are a bit rude. It is rare for me to delete without sending on but there are categories I won't be party to distributing. Here is one (he says, distributing it more widely).

An incident occurred in a supermarket recently, when the following was witnessed: A Muslim woman dressed in a Burkha (A black gown & face mask) was standing with her shopping in a queue at the checkout.
Read more... )

There's a whole argument that people could go into regarding loyalty to your new home vs loyalty to your original homeland. However, that discussion becomes entirely pointless once you realise that the example of split loyalties under discussion was entirely fabricated to rile up nationalistic sentiments.

(Cross-posted to atheism)
philosoraptor42: (Default)
Pat Condell's latest vid points out a situation whereby someone was given compensation because someone told him a joke about the Irish and he found it offensive.

So... what's Pat Condell not taken into account?

Here's the really telling line:
"I couldn't believe my ears - we were in the midst of a racial discrimination hearing."

The guy who made the joke was a councillor at a racial discrimination hearing. The union leader received compensation because he was subjected to hugely unprofessional and offensive behaviour during a meeting in which Mr. Bamber was representing the local council.

Apparently Cllr. Bamber wrote down on a bit of paper that he was sorry, but refused to sign it or write what he was sorry for. The court case went on for the most part without the plaintiffs involved. It was a matter of what the response should be to unprofessional behaviour in the workplace by a councillor.

Naturally all articles on this feature the joke concerned. If this was all about ordinary people being offended by jokes ripping into the Irish, that would be quite ludicrous. Naturally it's the context that matters here. Something Pat Condell isn't keen to spend much time on.

(Actually it was quite funny when the whole Danish cartoons fiasco started up, that while the controversy was over whether the cartoons should be printed, gaining a personal opinion on the matter seemed to require that the cartoons be printed. Bit of a Catch22.)

(Source one) (Source two)

Now this REALLY pisses off the Irish!

The article Pat Condell actually points out comes from a guy called Douglas Murray, who appears to be a hideous racist. I couldn't actually believe the video he posted in this entry on his blog where the host of The Politics Show starts grilling a Labour politician on her statement that "West Indian mums will go to the wall for their kids". Now naturally grilling politicians is a fine tradition, but when it takes the form of 'If West Indian mums are so great why are there so many dysfunctional West Indian families?' I find myself rather under-impressed. I'm sure the original comment wasn't intended to become a pissing contest of "which race features the best mums" and the interviewer's question seems to helpfully ignore the huge numbers of dysfunctional white families in Britain who make up the vast majority of our chav population.

Unsurprisingly, the comments on youtube for that video are utterly disgusting.

Richard Dawkins has pissed me off too... )
philosoraptor42: (Default)
I'm not going to bother with a tirade today. I am mainly just going to post what other people have written. Unless stated otherwise the comments I have posted are from the Richard Dawkins Website where I discovered the video.

First of all, a comment summarising the basic gist of Pat Condell's latest video post:
I don't care what the atheist community thinks of me. In fact, I don't care so much that I'm going to make a video saying how much I don't care, and post it to a high-traffic site within the atheist community. That's how much I don't care.

See? This is me not caring.


Now a quick update on what the problem with pat condell is. (If you want to find my own posts criticising Pat Condell, check here.)
[Recent video responses to Pat Condell] usually have [a] few fairly similar points in common.

- That he is supporting an ultra-right wing bill in the US to ban a muslim community center 2 blocks from ground zero.

- That he is recommending a book published by a fundamentalist christian news organisation with an awful track record.

- That he has used thouroughly debunked statistics on muslim birthrates as evidence for the "islamization of europe".

- That he is old.

Nobody, even his detractors, could seriously argue that Pat Condell is incapable of articulating his thoughts. So it begs the question, why did he choose to discuss only these peoples conclusions and not discuss any of the points they brought up, which have led them to the same conclusion? Especially when it obviously be a far more effective way of refuting it than merely asserting that he is not a bigot, and then childishly pronouncing that, anyway, he doesn't care.
That's the big question. If Pat Condell had refuted some of the accusations against him, it might have seemed vaguely worthwhile. But why simply make a post which says "I don't care what you think"?

Some more comments I like:

Pat if you’re reading this (and I hope you are), you would not know what freedom meant if it jumped up and hit you on your ‘little white Britain’ UKIP supporting noggen.
-when we come up with superficial critiques of the islamic world, some of the arguments might end up being used by christians to justify blind hate and violence... which defeats the purpose; there needs to be more essence and quality in the arguments.
Sadly, I'm one of those who finds Pat is starting to come across like the BNP with O Levels. His stuff is more or less Melanie Philips-lite. While there's clearly evidence that some anti-democratic stuff is being pushed by Islamic groups, much is just made up by the UK press, and Pat swallows this Daily Mail rubbish uncritically. If viewing the Mail sceptically makes me "PC", so be it.
(This comment is from Atheist Media Blog)
Seems to me that the atheists that Pat is complaining about are those who don't share his 'the muslims are coming to get me' paranoia.
i think it would be best for the integrity of this site to stop spreading pat condell's xenophobic propaganda. i think it would be a shame for anyone to google "pat condell" and find a link to the richard dawkins website. it gives him way too big a platform, and sullies what richard dawkins has been fighting for.

Dodgy comments

"He appears to be attacking the modern cultural relativist hard left, who are organised under the auspices of groups like Unite Against Fascism. "
... Yeah. Unite Against Fascism eh? I can see why Pat Condell wouldn't like them.

Some of these comments seem to do a REALLY bad job of defending him.
"There is also the problem that Pat Condell is being castigated for reasons unconnected to his message...i.e. UKIP and WNP."
WNP? I've never heard of that before. I wonder what.... SWEET ZOMBIE JESUS WTF??? White Nationalist Party??? Sheesh, I'd never have linked him to that. How the heck are they able to blithely suggest that he'd support a group like that and then suggest that it's no big deal? O_O

This is what Pat does every time he speaks out against the extremist, xenophobic Islamic communities. The resemblances between Islamic and Nazi totalitarianisms are quite striking.

As for right-wing, this is a commonly mis-applied pejorative, often used against any group that questions the left/liberal agenda. The EDL has recently demonstrated against the Islamization of Britain in an explicitly non-racist, peaceful way. Yet within weeks of their formation the anti-EDL UAF appeared and has been accusing the EDL of far-rightism and racism ever since. It appears to be an organised rather than a merely reflex kind of response. Anyhow, the term 'far-right' refers to a kind of 'laissez-faire' capitalist view; nothing to do with Islam/isation or immigration.
Yeah, um... that doesn't appear to be the attitude of the police force towards the EDL (English Defense League). I guess they're just unfairly discriminating against white salt-of-the-earth mobs, eh?

You can call Pat whatever you like for joining forces with right wing Christians and Jews against Islam when it suits him, but we all make alliances of circumstance in the face of what we see as a greater threat.  The ones who don't will find that they lose almost every time.(This comment is from Atheist Media Blog)
Yeah, I know you think you are helping Pat out here, but you're really not!

Finally, I've come across this video refuting Pat Condell's recent stuff. Their latest video is pretty good too.

philosoraptor42: (Default)
I'm following the blog feed and so I wouldn't be writing about this if they hadn't posted it. In fact, the reason I didn't react when Pat Condell noted the party he was going to vote for in the last election was because websites like presumably either thought no one would be interested, or were actively worried about being linked with the sentiment. In the thread on [ profile] atheism  I was informed "Pat has stated many times he doesn't support the BNP. In a recent vid, he urged his listeners to vote small party/independent (whatever that means)." The "small party/independent" was UKIP (UK Independence Party) whom our new centre-right Prime Minister once referred to as "full of loonies and closet racists mostly". So no surprise that this particular loony and closet racist wanted to support them, but moving on now...

Pat Condell's Book Club

Even having seen this new video I was considering keeping the rage to myself until, right at the end of the vid, Pat Condell decides to recommend a book.

The book in question has a nice and revealing title: "Muslim Mafia: Inside the Secret Underworld That's Conspiring to Islamize America"

Conspiracy Theories Or Serious Non-Fiction?

One of the commenters of had the following to say in response:
Wait a moment, isn't the book Pat is pimping published by the ultra right wing WorldNetDaily (WND) Books of "911 truth" and "Birthers" fame?

Oh dear Pat. First supporting UKIP now supporting conspiracy theorists....

I do hope he's being ironic.

Other books from WND include:
The Politically Incorrect Guide To Science (Tom Bethell exposes how science has been “politicized” to suit the agenda of the Left. From evolution to global warming--propaganda, hidden facts, and lies now surround most scientific topics.)
The Manchurian President: Barack Obama's Ties to Communists, Socialists and Other Anti-American Extremists

Climategate: A Veteran Meteorologist Exposes The Global Warming Scam
The Post-American Presidency: The Obama Administration's War on America
The Grand Jihad: How Islam and the Left Sabotage America Andrew C. McCarthy offers a harrowing account of how the global Islamist movement’s jihad involves far more than terrorist attacks, and how it has found the ideal partner in President Barack Obama, whose Islamist sympathies run deep.
George Washington's Sacred Fire Most people believe that George Washington was a deist. However, in this innovative and well-researched account Peter Lillback and Jerry Newcombe prove definitively that George Washington was indeed a devout, practicing Christian.
The Islamic Antichrist: The Shocking Truth about the Real Nature of the Beast

So the list goes on...

And sadly, it's pretty clear from this point that Pat Condell is not being ironic and early on in the video Pat Condell makes it pretty clear that he's buying into conspiracy theories when he claims: "Just look at the craven behaviour that allowed the massacre at Fort Hood to take place. We know it could have been prevented. But thanks to political correctness in the American Army - the American Army? - all the warning signs were ignored in case somebody got offended." Condell doesn't go into details, but the idea that anyone could have predicted Nidal Hasan was about to go nuts and start a mass-shooting seems bizarre to say the least.  We've had a fair number of shootings in the UK recently (and hand guns aren't even legal here) yet no one seems to be suggesting that they could have been predicted in advance. Those investigating Hasan's motives concluded that he was acting alone, but it looks like Pat Condell is probably more inclined to trust his new favourite book which asserts that Muslims are infiltrating the American government.

BTW Pat Condell's new favourite book claims that America is being infiltrated by a group called CAIR who, for the record, openly condemned the shooting in Fort Hood.

So Is The Book Right-Wing?
It's important to note that Pat Condell is quite desperate not to be seen as right-wing. He likes to think of himself as a liberal and he's angry that people keep noticing that he's not. So imagine my surprise (yeah right) when he decides to recommend a book with a foreword from Republican congresswoman Sue Myrick. Here's what she has to say on the subject:
"What they want to do is re-create the caliphate that happened . . . when they ruled the world." [Ruled the world???]  Steps include plans to throw out our government and "throw out our Constitution and force us to live under sharia law."
Yeah, how're those plans going then? Nearing fruition are they? *facepalm*

She also reckons that Iranians are smuggling their way into America across the Mexican border by learning Spanish in six months. (Yeah, you read that right.)

Other politicians who decided to join Sue Myrick in attacking CAIR over the accusations in this book include:
Trent Frank - Voted amongst the "most conservative" members of the U.S. House of Representatives in 2009 by the National Journal. Opposes same-sex marriage and abortion. Infamously claimed that legalised abortion is worse for the African American community than slavery: "Half of all black children are aborted. Far more of the African American community is being devastated by the policies of today than were being devastated by the policies of slavery."
John Shadegg Voted against the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2007, which increased the federal minimum wage from $5.15 to $7.25 an hour. Voted for a bill to build a 700-mile (1,100 km) fence along the border between the United States and Mexico (Secure Fence Act of 2006). Opposed health care reform, referring to it as "Soviet-style gulag healthcare".
Paul Broun In May 2009, Broun proposed legislation that 2010 be proclaimed "The Year Of The Bible". In June 2009, Broun voted against a climate change bill, calling the entire concept of man made global warming a "hoax" perpetuated by the scientific community.

If it weren't for Sue Myrick being brought in to write the foreword to the book, we might imagine that this book was being hi-jacked by right-wing figures. However, looking into the writer David Gaubatz we find more evidence of a similar ultra right wing stance than I could possibly go into here.

An advocacy group called CAIR (who've had some pretty harsh criticism for simply providing Rifqa Bary's parents with a lawyer) seem to be viewed by the writers of "Muslim Mafia" as a radical extremist group who are infiltrating the government. Their method? By the strategic placement of interns. CAIR's spokesman Ibrahim Hooper found it hard to take the book seriously precisely because: "the worst thing he could say about us was we placed interns on Capitol Hill"

In Conclusion
Perhaps I'm getting mixed up. Perhaps when Pat Condell says "if you've ever accused anyone of Islamophobia, read this book" then what he's actually saying is "this is REAL Islamophobia and anything else you've seen will pale by comparison".

Perhaps if Pat Condell actually read something a little less right-wing, he might have realised that the mosque he referred to in his last vid isn't actually a mosque.
philosoraptor42: (Default)
"Get back to Russia!"

That's the phrase used by Eddie Izzard in his stand-up show "Unrepeatable". It's a jokey way of characterising the sort of attitude whereby people presume those who are different ought to be living somewhere else. (In his particular stand up show, he's imagining the comment being made against transvestites. No, that doesn't make any sense. That's the whole point.)

Essentially I don't think there's ever any excuse for pointing to a long-established group of people and telling them to "get back to Russia". Of course, in the case of black people the common phrase has long been "go back to Africa" (though a friend was amused to find herself being told to "go back to London" which was an odd variation for her, not least since she's never lived in London). The case of Helen Thomas recently involved her telling Jewish inhabitants of Israel to go back to Germany or Poland.

Looking at the actual video she begins by saying, with her face nice and close to camera: "Get the hell out of Palestine". Now she laughs after this which suggests that she knows she's said something controversial. In the clip I saw it wasn't obvious what had proceeded this, so at that point I'm willing to give her the benefit of the doubt. She's using hyperbole perhaps?

However, having this comment followed up with a very serious-sounding response of "where should they go?"Helen Thomas' response is to suggest Poland or Germany and then finally America or anywhere else..... It's "Get Back To Russia" all over again...

Helen Thomas has put an "apology" on her website, but the apology is as follows (and this is the complete statement, not simply an extract):
“I deeply regret my comments I made last week regarding the Israelis and the Palestinians. They do not reflect my heart-felt belief that peace will come to the Middle East only when all parties recognize the need for mutual respect and tolerance. May that day come soon.”
Now I presume I'm not the only person who considers this apology to be far too vague in regards to her actual comments.

This has led to a recent discussion on ontd_p about whether her sacking from her current job was an unfair reaction to this. The rather interesting end of the Guardian article in the OP is this:
It is one of those rare occasions in which one can see clearly how people in America who are willing to express anti-establishment opinions are demonised, marginalised and finally excluded from public debate.

Did I say "people"? I mean, of course, those who are identified as liberals. Right-wing TV and radio hosts can say what they like, however outrageous. Some iconoclasts are obviously freer than others.
Okay, good point that right-wing goons seem to be able to say what they like without repurcussions, but on the other hand I'm not sure you've thought through the reasons for this properly. When you think about it, this isn't actually much of a criticism of the decision to sack Helen Thomas at all.

Okay think about it. Why are teabaggers able to say obnoxious things? Because they belong to a group where such attitudes are viewed as acceptable. (Though even then, a Nazi-supporter was viewed as having opinions which crossed the line and was actually accused of being there to intentionally discredit the tea party movement. So you see there is a limit.) Other right-wing figures spout their viscious views on Fox News, but while Glenn Beck can happily accuse the President of being a communist, there is also a limit on this news network as to what you can say with the Westboro Baptist Church, for example, being thoroughly condemned. Now, the difference for more liberal sources of information is that they have higher standards for what they are prepared to decry. So essentially what Roy Greenslade at the Guardian and those cheering his comments at ontd_p are doing here is criticising the Hearst newspapers for having high standards.

Naturally there will still be room for Helen Thomas to tout her now rather less liberal viewpoint in places where it is more suited. The question is, are these the places where she will feel comfortable?

Denouncing the liberals for not being bigoted enough reminds me of Pat Condell...
philosoraptor42: (Default)
All you Americans who’ve been following the rants of Pat Condell on youtube with glee. If any of you are still nursing the cosy illusion that he’s not a raging xenophobe, it’s time to wake up and open your goddamn eyes.

In case you haven’t heard, criticism of Islam in Europe is most loudly voiced by right-wing figures who are terrified of brown people. There’s Geert Wilders who wants to break the kneecaps of football hooligans (though only if they’re Moors – Oops, I mean Moroccans). There’s also a full-blown ban on minarets in Switzerland, despite the fact that the country only had two mosques with minarets, neither of which had the privilege of calling Muslims to prayer (though I’m sure the Church bells across Switzerland are freely allowed to ring). Meanwhile the well-known French misogynist pig Nicolas Sarkozy has decided to take cues from Belgium and certain areas of Germany and ban the burkha in France. While he is working his way through trophy wives and forcing his justice minister to cut her maternity leave short, apparently when it comes the burkha he’s suddenly hugely interested in female equality (as if a ban on the burkha would aid such as cause).

In Pat Condell’s recent video he’s decided that it isn’t enough for this hysteria over Islam to be spread across the continent and he wants to export it to the United States as well. The recent plans to build a large mosque in New York had already caused a bit of a stir, but since very few people are accusing the New York Muslims of trying to destroy the American way of life, he thinks they’re being too complacent.

The idea that a mosque might be built by a group of Muslims interested in showing good faith between people of all faiths in New York is incomprehensible to poor old Pat. The fact that many of the thousands to lose their lives on 9/11 were actually New York Muslims themselves does not seem to have entered his racist little head. He also apparently thinks that Muslims are dictating what is broadcast on Fox News. Is he losing his mind?

Y’know I’m not a right-wing nutter myself, but I can actually see why someone might be concerned about the creation of a mosque near Ground Zero. However, I also have the good sense to realise that the politicians in New York have thought about that too. The organisation behind this scheme is called the Cordoba Initiative and the building is to be called Cordoba House. And this is because Cordoba is the city in southern Spain where Muslims built their first great mosque when Spain was part of their empire. The mosque was so beautiful that, even when the Christians drove them out, they decided to convert the mosque into a Church rather than destroy it. Perhaps this organisation has an overly romanticised view of this period of history (though it’s hard not to share such a view if you are ever lucky enough to visit the Alhambra in Granada), but their principle is undoubtedly laudable. They wish to set up a centre for New York Muslims specifically acknowledging the horror of 9/11 and their opposition to that horror. Right-wingers like Pat Condell will often ask why they don’t see any moderate Muslims opposing Islamist extremism. Well Pat, you clearly aren’t paying attention!

Pat Condell’s rantings are thoroughly unenlightened and inconsistent. How obvious does that have to be? Pat, a whole-hearted opponent of religion, claims that Islam does not deserve that mantle. Is that a compliment? Unsurprisingly he sees Islam as less of a threat than fascism since, as a borderline BNP-supporter he fits right in with fascists. That’s why the idea of politicians encouraging tolerance and diversity rubs him the wrong way. Pat is thoroughly opposed to tolerance, rejects diversity, recoils in horror at the thought of “multiculturalism” and has little concern for the rights of Muslim women. And if he denies this, he’s a liar.

Here in London we’ve been fortunate enough to keep out Islamophobic nonsense for the most part. Public opinion recently sided against the building of a extra-large mosque to coincide with the Olympic games and cater for the increased number of Muslims in the country during that event. This actually made good sense since there are already a fair number of mosques in London to cater for the current population and so the mega-mosque would have had little use after the Olympics were over (though what we are going to do with the Olympic stadium after the Olympics are over is an issue which has yet to be dealt with). Cordoba House in New York is very different because it is intended to cope with specifically New York Muslims. It is ensuring that Muslims in New York feel part of a community and that the aftermath of 9/11 doesn’t leave them feeling isolated from their society and disillusioned with the American dream.

The last thing Americans need is hate-filled Islamophobic rants from Pat Condell. I’d like to tell Pat Condell and the bloggers who support him that enough is enough. And that this is one insult too far. And that his obnoxious fear mongering and slander against good and decent Muslims are getting boring.

Peace off yourself…

(X-Posted to Atheism)

Transcript for the Pat Condell video I'm responding to is under the cut:

Read more... )
philosoraptor42: (Default)
I was going to rant about Pat Condell's latest video ("Thank God For Andy Choudary"), but I've just decided that I cannot be arsed. Needless to say, despite his protestations to the contrary he's a right wing gitt these days. Yeah, so he right recognised that banning Islamic Fundamentalist groups from protesting is a stupid limit to free speech and the thin edge of the wedge. Who didn't know that? How about noting that the recent protests against Islam from the fascist "English Defence League" were far more worthy of such a ban (since they regularly led to violence) and yet no such action even appears to have been considered?

While Condell rants about how many Muslims want to make Britain an Islamic state, he completely fails to note that there are many many more Christians who want to make Britain into a Christian theocractic white-wash. Condell maintains his normal level of humour by suggesting that mosques be turned into pubs for the sake of community-cohesion. (The point being that Condell doesn't like community cohesion.) And he notes that Anjem Choudary is on benefits....

Now this last bit was where I just gave up. By that, I mean that I figured the best response was a clip from a stand-up act from Iranian comedian Omid Djalili about how glad he was that Omar Bakri was finally leaving the UK. (Omar Bakri was also a radical Islamist on benefits.) Omid's issue with Omar was that whenever the media wanted to include the point of view of Muslims in the UK they'd go to Omar Bakri, this raving nutcase with a hook for a hand. (If you're interested there's an article from Jon ("The Men Who Stare At Goats") Ronson about Omar Bakri.)

Anyway, having failed to find the intended clip, I ran into a lot of other clips and felt I had to share them:

In the following video the bit from 1:34 is just fantastic!:

And this is just classic:

Even more vids under the cut... )
philosoraptor42: (Default)
My first post on atheist fail
And to think it was less than a year ago that I first ventured there to challenge [profile] vox_diabolica 's wilful misunderstanding of the term 'analogy'. This naive venture also led to my being told that the book of "Job" is not about the problem of evil because that's only ever posed by atheists (and apparently this link doesn't say otherwise) and Nietzsche never called Christianity nihilistic (I do not appear to be the first person to have claimed this).

My first congratulations from the atheist fail regulars

Since then my first post on Pat Condell led to the a number of squees within [ profile] atheist_fail. For example:
"Holy shi-. Did [info]fatpie24's identity get high-jacked, cause that OP is win."

I'm especially impressed since it was only the previous month that I had been the butt of an atheist_fail headline:
He's Such A Charmer
My crime? Deleting Vox Diabolica's unambiguous insults. What did he find so offensive that he resorted to calling me names straight off the bat? Well, I guess he just doesn't like the Pharyngula blog very much...

My most recent congratulations from the atheist fail regulars
Ah, so to bring this bang up to date. There's been a slightly less direct recognition of my contributions. The only person who had a serious issue with my latest Pat Condell rant apparently went to [ profile] antitheism to bitch about me. The [ profile] atheist_fail readers saw the bitching, but don't appear to have recognised the origin. I will enlighten you all here.

Here's what [ profile] marcimojo wrote in [ profile] antitheism :
I just learned that being an antitheist is the same thing as being a bigot. As a matter of fact, the word "antitheist" can be freely interchanged with the word "bigot" or even the word "racist" if you want. I was informed of this by someone who is an atheist.

I don't understand. Can I not hold the position that theism hasn't gotten very good results with what it hoped to accomplish and just leave it at that? Must I be a bigot as well? Is criticising an organisation the same thing as discriminating against its memebers?

I have also been informed that one can no longer refer to organised religions as organisations. It's not PC.
Now, I'd actually happily label myself as an anti-theist. I don't just disbelieve in a God, but I also think that believing in a God is counter-productive for spirituality. That said, I'm not about to stop other people from believing in God, nor am I inclined to view belief in God as the principle cause of troubles in the world.

Anyway without any further ado, here is where the claim that I equated antitheism with bigot comes from:
"Can you criticise a child for sharing the beliefs of their parents when they are not forcing those beliefs upon others?"

Oh no, Ayaan Hirsi Ali is in the streets yelling abuse at small Muslim children? When did that happen? Oh wait. It didn't happen. You're just trying to say that ALL anti-theists hold a child's religion against the child, therefore anti-theism is as bigoted as racism.

As for the whole issue of whether religions are organisations, apparently if someone belongs to a certain group out of choice it is impossible to be bigoted against them. This seems to run along the lines of the whole right-wing "gay lifestyle" argument. If you can only demonstrate that something is a matter of choice that leaves you free to undermine them as much as you like. *Ugh!*

philosoraptor42: (Default)
In my last few posts about Pat Condell, I accused him of being racist, xenophobic and even sexist. However, while what Pat had to say was most certainly racist, xenophobic and sexist in sentiment, his latest video suggests that he's actually suffering from paranoid delusions. How can I hold a man responsible for his words and actions when he is so thoroughly detached from reality?

His latest video claims that priests are part of a totalitarian system whereby they use religion to increase their own power and to control the populace. He claims that priests are making huge amounts of money and demonstrates this by the fact that certain Archbishops, as well as the pope, live in palaces.

The problem is that this simply doesn't ring true to anyone who actually ever listened to a sermon in an actual church. The priests aren't in some special upper class within society. It's also difficult to claim that their modest collections are part of some kind of racket when Church buildings are falling into disrepair and the biggest source of money for the Anglican Church is land ownership, not contributions on Sundays.

Now I'm a big fan of Nietzsche and he has a few passages where he talks about the oppression by "the priest", but this is an ideological oppression which Nietzsche even recognises is somewhat masochistic in nature. I find it funny that even Mitchell and Webb provide a more realistic impression of the clergy than Pat Condell provides (which also puts pay to the idea that Condell's argument only seems ridiculous because he's exaggerating for comic effect):

It's certainly true that, having achieved the position of Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams lives in a palace. However, this is part of a long tradition passed down from a time when the Archbishop of Canterbury was a leading advisor to the King. Far from being a sign of modern corruption, it's a remnant of the medieval hierarchy. Even if it weren't the home of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Lambeth Palace would still be in the same situation as today whereby it has regular guided tours, only it would probably be in posession of the National Trust rather than the Church of England.

Now for a great deal of the video Pat Condell makes some sensible points. The thing is, we've heard all this stuff before and last time it wasn't sandwiched by utter nonsense. So let's go through the true statements in the video that we've heard many time before, followed by summing up the more ridiculous claims of the video.


Read more... )
philosoraptor42: (Default)
I was a bit unnerved recently when one of my youtube videos received a rather low rating. One person had rated it and they'd given it 1 star out of 5.

I mean, naturally that's fair enough. If people don't like it, they don't have to give it a good rating. Besides, it's not like it was a video I'd spent much time on. Nevertheless, I was a little concerned.

I decided to look through the 'insight' options on youtube. Some part of me wanted to find some clue as to who had rated my video so poorly, but I didn't really hold out any hope. I was just browsing... So imagine my surprise when I discovered that the video had been discovered by some people through an embedded video on some random blogs. I was somewhat chuffed until I discovered where the video had been embedded.

Suffice it to say, with these sites causing the vast majority of hits my video I should probably thank my lucky stars I didn't have an awful lot more 1-star ratings. Seriously, check this out:

"Blue Collar Philosophy".

The actual website address was "WhyIAmNotADemocrat"
Within the margin you can find this quality nonsense:

The unifying themes of this blog are that:
(1) Liberalism or sometimes called Progressivism is a false religion that stands in total antithesis to biblical Christianity.
(2) Progressives claim to support hard working Americans but actually hold their values in contempt.
(3)Progressive policies of the Left actually hurt hard working men and women who support their families, through the Left's Marxist redistributionary taxes.
(4)Family values are undermined by the Left's radical social agendas.

Progress is antithetical to Christianity? Tell me something I didn't know! *wink*

Ah, taxes which redistribute wealth to the poor are labelled as Marxism. How very Christian.

The other blog was

"Bare Naked Islam"
Their tagline is: It isn't Islamophobia when they really ARE trying to kill you.

At the bottom of the page there's a link to one of their previous blog articles:
"BOO FRICKEN HOO! Heres the crap you'll see in the liberal media about the poor Palestinans who were evicted from their homes in jerusalem"

Read more... )
philosoraptor42: (Default)
Well, I had quite a treat upon returning from my holiday abroad. Not only was the internet back up when I got back, but Pat Condell had released another video. Not just any video, but a direct response to the people (like myself) who found his previous video racist. Far from feeling shamed by his latest outburst, I feel thoroughly vindicated.

Read more... )
philosoraptor42: (Default)
The latest video from Pat Condell makes use of typical Daily Mail prejudice. The topic? Not only that we should ban the burkha, but that women are doing an injustice to women's rights by failing to decry a woman's right to wear it. Pat Condell takes up the mantle of liberator of women both now and in the ever-precious future through his insistence that we demand that it be illegal to wear it.

Pat Condell is the so-called "comedian" who is often found advertised on Richard Dawkins' website. I've actually known people to be surprised to hear that he isn't a celebrity here in Britain. He's gained a following amongst atheists who fancy a laugh at the expense of uptight religious fanatics. Unfortunately he's not anything like in the same league as John Safran or as subtle (yes, I'm serious).

Perhaps the oddest thing about Pat's video is his claim that the problem is women deciding to disguise themselves. If we were sure that women only ever wore the burkha through their own free will rather than being pressured into doing so by oppressive patriarchy then I don't quite see how it would be a problem (and I certainly cannot see how it would be the women's fault). As for the idea that is mentioned later that the burkha should not be allowed to be worn in banks, I've never heard anything so ridiculous. As Pat is keen to remind us, wearing the burkha is like wearing "a mobile tent". Now imagine a bank robber trying to make a getaway carrying their bag of swag while wearing it. They'd be lucky not to fall straight onto their (covered) face.

Worrying too is Pat's use of emphasis for effect. It often seems quite hostile, but more importantly it can give a very dodgy (and supposedly unintentional) meaning to his words:

Well this week there’s been quite a lot of talk about the burkha or the nikab or whatever you want to call it. I’m talking about the neurotic need that some women have to walk around everywhere in disguise.

"Some women" eh? So much for the feminist champion Pat claims to be later on in the video. If the whole point of this rant is to victimise some women suffering from neuroses, it doesn't fit with the supposedly noble cause Pat claims to be calling for by the end.

Apparently, according to Pat, a more healthy society where everyone is honest would not require this ban because everybody's reaction to unfamiliar styles of dress would be ridicule and condescension. Sadly, what he is describing is not far from the actual situation and it's only thanks to those of us with simple human decency that it isn't even more of an issue for Muslims in Britain.

If we were a more honest society, and therefore a more healthy society, there’d be no need to ban this ridiculous outfit because it would already have been ridiculed out of existence.

Honest and healthy? More like bigoted and unpleasant.

Pat's first major argument appears to be that there is nothing in the Qu'ran which demands that women dress in this fashion, covering their face. That might be worth mentioning, certainly, but religions aren't simply based around scripture. In fact I'm pretty certain that EVERY religious tradition bases itself around more than scripture. Within the Christian tradition we would have to do away with rosaries, monasteries, bishops, crosses worn round the neck, holy water, and even arguably the doctrine of the trinity if Christians are only allowed to follow teachings found within their holy book. It takes a certain type of protestant Christianity to insist that scripture is the only thing which dictates religious tradition and I'm pretty sure their hypocritical in the process. Within Islam it is quite a conservative belief that religious tradition should be based not only on the teachings of the Qu'ran, but also on the actions and sayings of the prophet found in the hadiths and on top of that rules which are derived from these.

What would have been more helpful would have been an argument that the Qu'ran actively contradicts this passage (and I have certainly known Muslims claim that women are not supposed to have their faces covered according to Islamic teaching). However, this would involve putting in a good word for moderate Muslims which Pat wants to decry as 'enablers' (as we'll see in a moment).

In reply to the claim that the burkha is done to demonstrate modesty (rather like the kachhas in Sikhism), Pat's response, fairly reasonably, is that wearing "a mobile tent" is going way beyond modesty. Unfortunately that's where the reasonableness ends. The next stage of Pat's rant is to claim that all women who wear the burkha are ungrateful immigrants who hate British culture and should go back home.

Modest people don’t draw attention to themselves by dressing up in a mobile tent just to rub it in the face of a culture they despise, but for some reason insist on living in.

Now let's accept for the moment (to be as charitable as possible) that women who wear the burkha are disturbed by the commercialised and material world and wear this style of dress to withdraw. How is that different from the attitude of nuns? But then again, maybe Pat is an equal-opportunity bigot. Perhaps he would tell nuns to go to the Vatican if they aren't entirely happy with modern culture.

Quite apart from the obvious security threat posed by the burkha which we don’t like to talk about out of respect for their religion even though their religion is our biggest security threat. Sorry to all you peaceful Muslims but we all know that is the unfortunate truth, at least right now.
What the heck? I can't be the only person wondering how Pat's thought processes are working at this stage. He fully admits that there are Muslims for whom his argument is unreasonable and that there are enough of them to make them worth addressing. Yet for some reason his complete recognition that what he is posing is an unfair stereotype doesn't stop him from carrying on with it unashamedly.

Islam is responsible for the terrorist threat in the same way that Christianity is responsible for the death of Dr. Tiller. Yes, there's a link. No one is doubting that. But it's not a simple 1:1 relationship. Religions have a huge degree of internal diversity and even overlap with one another. Terms like "Christianity" and "Islam" bracket together similar kinds of religious devotion, however their expression will depend greatly on the culture and location in which you find them. Daniel Maguire is a Roman Catholic Christian and he strongly believes in his faith and the tradition of his Church. Nevertheless, he isn't going to condemn a man for performing abortions. Similarly just because someone follows the religion of Islam doesn't mean they're in favour of the burkah either. People's views about religion will differ. Nevertheless, plenty of people actually are talking about the burkha being a security threat. It's mentioned all over the place. What we could do with is a little more respect for the women who are actually wearing the damn thing and Pat does not feel inclined to contribute to this since it would conflict with the "healthy and honest" world he wants us to live in.

Pat has the audacity to claim that women who wear the burkha are condoning the oppression it is often used to achieve. That they are enablers. But what is Pat enabling? It wasn't so long ago that there was a big hoo hah over politician Jack Straw insisting that women uncover their faces when they speak to him. It was rightly pointed out in Straw's defence that he was not insisting that women do away with the burkha or nikab, but rather that within certain scenarios it might be necessary to remove it for pragmatic reasons. He certainly wasn't insisting that we forcibly unveil Muslim women, but unfortunately that was the sentiment that developed. This, it seems to me, is where the other side of the coin really comes into play. If you ban the burkha isn't this just another example of women having their rights limited by a patriarchal over-zealous authority? In the end shouldn't this be about choice. In Iran they have seen both sides of this coin, going from being forcibly unveiled to forcibly veiled and the debate today in Iran is much over personal freedom than this nonsensical issue in France of whether the burkha should be banned or not. (And let's not forget that in France there is a lot of racial tension in regards to those with Algerian roots which might influence the debate there.)

Pat also asks why feminists aren't talking about this. Clearly he hasn't bothered to look. Feminists are talking about this all over the place. Some will agree, some will disagree and most will recognise that the debate is far more complicated than he is making it out to be. In any case, Pat's criticism isn't really over silence but inaction. If we don't agree with Pat and actively campaign for the burkha to be banned we are morally culpable. It's at this point where my conspiracy theory alert starts ringing:

Any western woman who makes allowances for, or who accommodates the misogyny of Islam in her life is a fool to herself and a traitor to her daughters who will have to live with the consequences in a society where they feel less value, less safe and have fewer rights than they do now.


Seriously, allowing women the right to wear the burkha is not wearing down women's rights. We are still going to strongly criticise people being forced to wear clothing against their will and the chances of the burkha causing bad effects for anyone outside the religion of Islam is around about nil. There is an issue of the burkha being forced on Muslim women against their will and there is an issue of the burkha as a negative result of indoctrination. Nevertheless, to insist that this will have consequences for the daughters of 'western women' is pure shock tactics. This whole idea that Islamic ideas are going to take over the country and undermine our liberties is nonsense. The labour government is in a much better position to do that than any Muslim....

x-posted to atheist snark
x-posted to atheism
(sorry to those who subscribe to both. This must be getting really dull now.)


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