philosoraptor42: (Fatpie42)
Okay, so I'm not like an expert in US law. Or even moderately informed on US law. So yeah, take this as a fairly uninformed view...

Quite often you get instances where there's a conflict between two people for whatever reason and that conflict turns violent. There are plenty of instances of two people getting into a punch up with one another with no witnesses. Quite often that sort of thing doesn't go to court because it's one person's word against the other's and it doesn't normally involve what the courts would view as serious injury.



Now if there's a weapon involved like a knife or a cricket bat or whatever it may be, there's more likely to be a court case involved. Two reasons for this. Firstly because if a weapon was used the injuries are likely to be greater and if one person died from stab wounds or having their skull caved in naturally the courts are going to need to investigate. However, there is another reason involving the presence of the offensive weapon in the first place. Now naturally if you've just come from a cricket game then you've got a good reason to be carrying a cricket bat and you can explain your journey from the fields or park where you were playing. If you are carrying a gun you may have been doing some hunting and you can explain your route from the hunting grounds. You might have a good reason for carrying the item in question, but explaining the presence of that item will be part of your defence since that item may well have escalated the conflict.



Now in America there are gun concealment laws which mean that people need no excuse whatsoever for why they were carrying a gun. Perhaps if they were carrying a kitchen knife, a meat cleaver or a chainsaw, but a gun? No explanation required for a gun. Clearly the gun is required for self-defence.



Now in the Trayvon Martin murder case, Zimmerman claims that Martin attacked him. There are no witnesses, so the courts cannot confirm nor deny this. Since the evidence is so light here, let's just give be ridiculously charitable to Zimmerman and presume for the moment that Martin DID attack him. Naturally we have no reason to suppose this. It's highly probable that Zimmerman simply gunned Martin down in cold blood. But for the sake of argument we'll just presume that Martin attacked Zimmerman here and see where it takes us...

We know from a phone call to police from Zimmerman that Zimmerman had been watching Martin and considered him suspicious, so Zimmerman's presence near Martin was clearly not a coincidence and so, even if we presume for the sake of argument that Martin DID attack Zimmerman, the likelihood that Martin's attack was unprovoked is pretty slim.



I would like to suggest, and I don't think this is controversial, that if Zimmerman had not brought a gun to that conflict no one would have died. The presence of the gun escalated the conflict. Sure Zimmerman might have left with harsh injuries. That's possible. Whether they'd be worse than those received by Martin is questionable. And Zimmerman could sue later and either get compensation, or cause Martin to be given jail time, or both. There would definitely be consequences, but nobody would be dead. The presence of the gun escalated the outcomes of that confrontation. It did more harm than good.



Particularly unhelpful here is the "stand your ground" law which seems to suggest, as I see it, that if someone is violent towards you, you have free reign to go Mortal Kombat on their ass. The most important detail here is apparently nothing to do with what weapons the assailant is carrying and everything to do with whether the person 'standing their group' perceives themselves to be under threat. So if you feel like you are under threat (FIGHT!) you are free to fight the person threatening you to the death (FINISH HIM!) and if you've got a gun and they don't you are clearly going to win (FATALITY!) - unless they have awesome ninja skills and can disarm you or unless (and this is perhaps more likely) you find that in a close-quarters fight you are unable to hit them with any bullets.... Hmmm.


(All the all-caps stuff in brackets above comes from the game Mortal Kombat btw)

Okay, so this is another concern of mine. Zimmerman was supposed to have hit Martin with a bullet to the heart. Are supporters of Zimmerman arguing that this was a lucky shot? Since I would have thought that in a hand-to-hand struggle, getting your gun out and landing a successful shot to your opponent would be pretty tough.



So the Trayvon Martin murder case doesn't appear to give a decent motivation for Martin's supposed attack, it doesn't successfully demonstrate that Martin was doing anything other than defending himself, and no suspicions are raised by Zimmerman's decision to come to the conflict armed with a gun. According to US law this is all perfectly fine. All Zimmerman's defence need to demonstrate is that there is insufficient evidence to convict him of murder. With the victim dead, the evidence on the other side of the argument is limited. The presence of the gun is viewed as entirely unproblematic since everyone can carry a gun wherever the hell they like and if they feel threatened they have the right to kill. And no matter how poorly or implausibly the defence put forward their case, the lack of evidence that Trayvon's death was murder rather than self-defence is enough to get an "innocent" verdict. (Scotland has an alternative verdict of "not proven" which might be appropriate here.)

Considering that the gun rights activists in the US think it's inappropriate to mention gun control when innocent people are gunned down by people who clearly should never have been licensed to hold a gun, I'm sure they think it's even more inappropriate to bring it up in a case where the innocence or guilt of both parties is even less certain. I know I'm just a liberal Brit with no understanding of US gun culture, but the more I hear about it the more I feel like I don't want to understand. What is the benefit of concealed weapons and how does it outweigh the negatives? If people weren't allowed to carry guns with them and gun down anyone they perceive as a threat Trayvon Martin would still be alive today, regardless of all this "who attacked who?" kerfuffle. Escalating a hand-to-hand conflict by introducing a deadly weapon is not a good thing. Isn't this obvious?

philosoraptor42: (Fatpie42)


With the recent change in Pope and the long-running child abuse scandal the new Pope must now handle, Roman Catholicism is clearly in the spotlight. The recent news that Pope Francis has a history of close cooperation with the military Junta in Argentina is clearly not a good sign.



As head of the Jesuit order from 1973 to 1979, Jorge Bergoglio – as the new pope was known until yesterday – was a member of the hierarachy during the period when the wider Catholic church backed the military government and called for their followers to be patriotic.

Bergoglio twice refused to testify in court about his role as head of the Jesuit order. When he eventually appeared in front of a judge in 2010, he was accused by lawyers of being evasive.

The main charge against Bergoglio involves the kidnapping of two Jesuit priests, Orland Yorio and Francisco Jalics, who were taken by Navy officers in May 1976 and held under inhumane conditions for the missionary work they conducted in the country's slums, a politically risky activity at the time.

His chief accuser is journalist Horacio Verbitsky, the author of a book on the church called "El Silencio" ("The Silence"), which claims that Bergoglio withdrew his order's protection from the two priests, effectively giving the military a green light for their abduction.



(Via The Guardian)

There's also a comment from an Argentinian on Pharyngula's blog summing up the situation as follows:



As an Argentinian I can confirm your “rumours” and add that this guy was a collaborator with the military during the last coup d’etat during the 70′s : Among many things, he informed to the military that two monks that were working in a low income neighbourhood were no longer protected by the catholic church, facilitating their detention and posterior disappearance.

Mind you, to “disappear” at that time meant to be detained by the military, held without rights or trial, possibly (and often) tortured under suspicions of being a Marxist/ “terrorist”, being completely incomunicated [sic] with your family and finally be killed and buried on an unmarked grave, or thrown from a plane into the river.

Thrown.

From a fucking plane.

Into the river. (Known as “deathflights”: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_flights )



(via Butterflies and Wheels)


Jorge Mario Bergoglio (now Pope Francis) with General Jorge Rafael Videla leader of the oppressive Argentinian military junta, who seized power in a military coup d'etat in the late seventies and early eighties.

However, while the religion I wish to talk about today certainly committed recent atrocities in full knowledge of the central authority, I do not mean to discuss Roman Catholicism below. Sure, I'm going to talk about forced child labour and there IS at least one Roman Catholic example of this. The film "Oranges and Sunshine" dramatises the real life event where children where taken from their parents without permission and sent to Australia for 'a better life' which, for those sent into the care of the "Christian Brothers" meant forced labour and abuse.

However, while there are plenty of cases of religions where individual groups have been involved in horrific practices, some of which they are unwilling to apologise for and which may continue to this day, there's one religion for which is seems to comprise a central raison d'etre. I am of course talking about the religion of Scientology and their organisation known as the Sea Organisation.



It's recently been revealed that the Sea Organisation deliberately denies children a proper education, forces them to engage in hours and hours of forced labour, and keeps the children separate from their parents for much of their lives. When followers of Scientology sign up for the SeaOrg they sign a billion year contract. That's possibly one of the most creepy things I have ever heard.

This isn't a matter of a religious organisation being stuck in old fashioned thinking or taking advantage of the current political situation or even a horrible act from centuries past for which they still hold the guilt. This is an organisation set-up within a particular religious body by its central authority figures and run centrally with the sole purpose of exploiting, abusing and neglecting its followers, including many young children.

Now I'm not about to give other religions a free pass here. I've already stated that Roman Catholicism, amongst others, has a lot to answer for. But I really do wonder whether this new revelation about Scientology doesn't make "The Church of Scientology" the most abhorrent religious organisation of its size functioning today. And I seriously thought the bar was already pretty high....



For the whole transcript for Jenna Miscavige Hill's interview with the BBC plus a video of another interview look under the cut below...

Read more... )

Also, check out the recent podcasts from "The Good Atheist" about the Church of Scientology:
(Part one)
(Part two)
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: (Fatpie42)


So, the Oscars ceremony rolls around again and we see yet more of the typical boring arguments about which films were picked by old white men who form the judges panel. There's criticism of Seth MacFarlane for not being funny enough, as if it was normal to expect comedy gold during the show. However, the Oscars continue to somehow hold respect within the industry, so each award received continues to make a serious statement. Possibly even a political statement sometimes.

However, I'm not convinced that I've ever heard of an Oscars-related issue so politically charged before. Sure, the lack of recognition for black actors has always been an issue, as have other inequalities in the industry related to gender, sexuality, disability and so on. However, in this particular case, unknown to most of the viewing public across the globe, there was a protest taking place outside the Oscars this time in relation to the plight of visual effects workers.



As the time came around to hand out the Oscar for visual effects, there was a brief suggestion on stage that visual effects work needed proper recognition at the ceremony. Samuel L. Jackson seemed oddly cagey at this stage, seemingly insisting that the visual effects award be rushed through. After lamenting some difficulty handling the envelope, Jackson announces that the winners of the award are the team who worked on "Life Of Pi".

They read out a long list of people to thank, but before they even reached the end of their pre-agreed list, the theme from "Jaws" began to play loudly. The speaker spoke louder to be heard over the music. Having finished the list of 'thank yous' he then began to make reference to their company's financial difficulties. It was at this moment that his microphone was turned off. There was to be no mention of these difficulties during the Oscars ceremony (at least not indoors).

The shocking thing is that the team suffering from those 'financial difficulties' is, in fact, filing for bankruptcy. The visual effects team "Rhythm and Hues", which also worked on another nominee "Snow White And The Huntsman" that was similarly profitable, is going bankrupt because the film studios have failed to pay them. Their workers, who are directly responsible for the success of "Life Of Pi" at the Oscars, have not been given their basic wages.

While the Oscars shoo the visual effects team off the stage within the ceremony, one protest board outside reads "WILL MATTE PAINT FOR FOOD".



THE EVENT AT THE OSCARS
There are clips from the Oscars all over youtube, but it is rather harder to find this clip of the visual effects winners being cut off when receiving their award. Hopefully this clip is still working.


(video link)

You can find out more information about this in the following links:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2013/feb/25/oscars-protest-life-of-pi
http://insidemovies.ew.com/2013/02/25/oscars-visual-effects-protest-li fe-of-pi/
http://www.cinemablend.com/new/Life-Pi-Visual-Effects-Artists-Protest- Oscar-Red-Carpet-35967.html
http://www.fastcocreate.com/1682488/when-winning-an-oscar-means-bankru ptcy-vfx-artists-protest-the-academy-awards


EXTRACT FROM THE GUARDIAN



"Several hundred people reportedly congregated outside the Dolby theatre in Los Angeles as the stars walked the red carpet, demanding better treatment for the artists who make the spectacular visuals for blockbuster movies possible. The protest was planned after the well-known Rhythm & Hues effects house filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last week, shortly after winning a Bafta for its work on Life of Pi....

"When the visual effects team behind Life of Pi attempted to draw attention to Rhythm and Hues' plight during their acceptance speech for the best visual effects Oscar, they were cut off by the band as the speech went on beyond the stipulated limit.
"




(Cross-posted to moviebuffs)
philosoraptor42: (Default)


Okay, so when Google acquired Youtube suddenly they wanted to combine the two accounts. Fair dos.

But recently I keep getting asked on Youtube in different ways to change my user name to my real name. I keep picking the option that says that I don't want to use my real name - and I keep getting asked again anyway.

Google, I do not want to use my real name online. Get over it, dammit!!!

philosoraptor42: (Default)
Really puzzled by this. Tarantino all of a sudden gets squeamish about talking about violence and movies. He point blank refuses to answer a question about why he thinks that real life violence and enjoyment of violence in movies are not connected saying "I'm shutting your butt down". It strikes me as bizarre since (i) I'd have though Tarantino had a lot to say on the subject and (ii) the interviewer didn't seem to me to be at all opinionated or unfair in his posing of the issue.



(video link)

So why is Tarantino acting like this?

- Is he less sure of his position on whether violence can be caused by films and feel less able to speak confidently on the issue?
- Is he in a defensive mood, possibly even from an earlier interview? Perhaps the hypothetical idea posed that this latest movie might be "trashed by more people" than previous movies rubbed him the wrong way?
- Is it because he thinks he has a good chance at the Oscars this time around and he's worried about controversy for that reason?

Personally I feel the idea that people are going to talk about slavery in an important way as a result of "Django Unchained" is rather hard to swallow. I also found it rather worrying to watch a rich white director say to a black interviewer "I'm not your slave. I'm not your monkey," in order to explain why he is refusing to answer a reasonable and respectfully delivered question.

I like Tarantino most of the time and I'm still planning to see "Django Unchained" fairly soon when it is finally released in the UK. However, he gave a pretty appalling interview here and I'm not sure what he thought he was playing at.

(Cross-posted to moviebuffs)
philosoraptor42: (Fatpie42)
I don't really have anything new to say about the Newtown incident. I talked about the Aurora incident at the showing of "The Dark Knight Rises" and I have to admit that if that hadn't been Batman related I probably wouldn't have mentioned it. Hearing about mass shootings in the US has become unremarkable for us here in the UK. The US has widespread legal gun ownership, including the ownership of powerful assault weapons (for hunting purposes apparently...), whereas in the UK guns are generally confined to gun ranges in urban areas and across the country the use of hand guns by civilians is banned. We do admittedly still have the occasional gun-crazed maniac, such as the Cumbrian shootings just over two years ago, and in London we have plenty of criminals in possession of illegal firearms, but it simply isn't on the same scale as in the US.



I recognise that the situation with guns in America is complicated, but I have to address the complete loser who was trying to blame the whole thing on mental illness. Fortunately I'm not talking about Morgan Freeman. In actual fact, the words placed in Morgan Freeman's mouth weren't as awful as the words of the guy I actually wish to speak about, but it thankfully turns out that Morgan Freeman never said them. The statement attributed to Morgan Freeman regarding the Newtown incident was a hoax. The falsely-attributed statement insisted that we remember the victims rather than the murderer (which I think people are actually doing a lot this time around anyway), that we stop making a big deal about the incident on the news (I'm not sure that this helps the victims deal with the incident at all), that we avoid making people think that they'll be remembered if they murder a bunch of schoolchildren (which is an interesting point), but the very brief but significant point from this fake comment which bugged the hell out of me was this:

"You can help by donating to mental health research instead of pointing to gun control as the problem."

Now it just so happens that this also the main focus of the argument made by Richard Feldman, chief douchebag of the Independent Firearm Association. He claims that the biggest cause of massive shootings is "mentally deranged individuals" and therefore who does he think is REALLY responsible? (*nudge nudge* Any guesses?) Mental health provision!



Now don't get me wrong. I'm sure mental health provision can be improved. It's not exactly on top form in the UK either and with all the medical insurance issues with ANY kind of healthcare in the US, I'm sure it's a pretty major concern there. It's this supposed link with gun crime that concerns me. It's almost like Feldman believes that the Aurora shooter just happened to be wandering around with a bunch of guns and thought "why not use them in my local cinema?" This is a guy who boobytrapped his entire house with the full intention that it would hurt the police officers who went to search it. These crimes aren't just random flights of fancy by mentally deranged individuals in need of help. They are acts of sick and twisted individuals who are lacking in humanity. These killers are not confused about what they did. They are methodical and capable.

As much as better mental health treatments would help people with mental illness, it does sufferers of mental illness no favours whatsoever to label them all as the biggest threat when it comes to gun crime. There might be certain conditions were a person probably shouldn't be in control of a gun and in the majority of cases I suspect such individuals would insist that they not be put in charge of a gun, but I cannot imagine a situation where that then leads to them boobytrapping their house and going on a gun rampage in their local public setting of choice.



Oh yeah, that's exactly how it works. *facepalm*

The connection between mental health issues and gun-crazed rampages is not there, unless perhaps you include things like "being highly upset and possibly depressed by losing your job or being left by your wife" as, by itself, a mental derangement. The Cumbrian shooter was upset that he lost his job. Admittedly, the Aurora shooter apparently suggested to friends that he might have dysphoric mania saying they should stay away from him for this reason, but it's not at all clear that there's a direct correlation between his actions and any possible mental health issues. His decision to proceed with his plan seems to have come after failing a recent test at the university he was attending.

In actual fact, the Newtown shooter's mother was a survivalist who was preparing for some kind of apocalyptic event, so it seems that there were ideological elements (which isn't the same as a mental illness, as I'm sure you are all aware) in the case of this most recent incident.




Below (under the cut) is the whole interview on the BBC with Richard Feldman. I must warn you, the guy is a complete idiot, and I'm pleased to see that the interviewer makes a point of not humouring any of his attempts to pass the buck to the mental health services. The most important bit for me is where the interviewer notes that gun-related deaths of young children in a certain age-bracket are 13 times higher in the US and his response is essentially, it's too late to do anything about it and don't take away our guns. I don't care if hunting is EASIER with a semi-automatic weapon (since some US gun fanatics seem to insist on this), it's utterly ludicrous for those kinds of firearms to be available to the general public.

Oh and "it couldn't have happened if we banned mental illness"? Mr. Feldman, you suck.

Read more... )

Edit: Dr. Jen Gunter has an interesting post where she notes that the mental illnesses most clearly linked with gun-related massacres are schizophrenia and psychopathy. The former can be treated and better access to mental health might well help such people and prevent attacks in some cases. The latter, however, is pretty much untreatable and unlikely to be at all easy to spot. Psychopaths don't really act drastically differently from other people.

Naturally Dr. Gunter wants mental health provision to improve. Don't we all? But if anyone is getting the idea that it's going to mean that all psychopaths are quickly and easily identified (never mind preventing future atrocities through treatment) that is naive (and I'm certain Dr. Gunter would not wish anyone to be drawn to that conclusion).

Psychopathy is not generally a condition that leaves sufferers feeling like they need external help. The idea that labelling and treating psychopaths with the aim of reducing gun crime is a compassionate move is misleading. What if they refuse treatment? What if (as may well be the case) their condition does not improve as a result of the treatment provided? Will they be locked away on the offchance that they 'might' commit a crime in the future? Psychopaths are not so capable of empathy but they make decisions like anyone else and psychopathy is not a condition that prevents the subject from being held accountable for their crimes. Their mental health treatment is pretty much irrelevant to the gun crime issue in the US. (Dr. Gunter's original article is here.)


[livejournal.com profile] calapine has made a post about this issue here.
philosoraptor42: (Default)
... the answer is "pretty damn horrible", okay?

Y'see Ireland has this law whereby abortion is made illegal. It's not actually supposed to include cases where there's a danger to the mother, but that didn't stop the recent ridiculously unnecessary screw-up. The law actually doesn't really so much stop abortions as make them extra specially difficult because anyone who wants one has to travel specially to the UK to get the procedure done. Of course, that's not really feasible when your fully intentional pregnancy has gone awry and you are in a severe condition in an Irish hospital.


This lovely lady is called Savita Halappanavar. She died tragically a week after being admitted to a hospital in Galway where she was found to be miscarrying. For three days she asked for doctors to terminate her pregnancy but this was refused on the grounds that: "This is a Catholic country." Apparently her response that she was neither Irish nor Catholic made no difference to this (she was Indian and Hindu).

Dr. Jen Gunter explains:
...“Miscarrying” at 17 weeks can only mean one of three things:

A) Ruptured membranes
B) Advanced cervical dilation
C) Labor (this is unlikely, although it is possible that she had preterm labor that arrested and left her with scenario B, advanced cervical dilation).

All three of these scenarios have a dismal prognosis, none of which should involve the death of the mother.
Since Savita was told that the doctors would need to wait until the foetal heartbeat stopped before they could intervene, Dr. Gunter has a number of possible explanations, all of which are horrible:
As there is no medically acceptable scenario at 17 weeks where a woman is miscarrying AND is denied a termination, there can only be three plausible explanations for Ms. Hapappanavar’s “medical care” :

1) Irish law does indeed treat pregnant women as second class citizens and denies them appropriate medical care. The medical team was following the law to avoid criminal prosecution.
2) Irish law does not deny women the care they need; however, a zealous individual doctor or hospital administrator interpreted Catholic doctrine in such a way that a pregnant woman’s medical care was somehow irrelevant and superceded by heart tones of a 17 weeks fetus that could never be viable.
3) Irish law allows abortions for women when medically necessary, but the doctors involved were negligent in that they could not diagnose infection when it was so obviously present, did not know the treatment, or were not competent enough to carry out the treatment.

What we do know is that a young, pregnant, woman who presented to the hospital in a first world country died for want of appropriate medical care. Whether it’s Irish Catholic law or malpractice, only time will tell; however, no answer could possibly ease the pain and suffering of Ms. Halappanavar’s loved ones.
And it only gets worse...

This is Senator Ronan Mullen. He's decided to take this moment to announce that: "he hoped protestors outside the Dáil would not use the tragic death of Savita Halappanavar as an argument for legislating for abortion."

Yes, because clearly a woman dying from being denied an abortion is NOT the time to start asking questions about access to abortion, right? No, instead it's the PERFECT TIME to start denouncing any such idea and SHAMING anyone who even dreamt of bringing up the matter, obviously! *facepalm*

(Reminds me of the pro-gun guy who got upset that people were suggesting that the Colorado shootings
might indicate that gun control was lacking. But at least he was just some random guy on the internet and not a public figure in a position of authority.)


Meanwhile the minister for health, James Reilly, reckons that it's too early to say whether ties to a Catholic ethos were at fault:
Speaking in the Dáil this evening, he said we "could not pre-judge" the situation, adding he had no evidence to suggest a Catholic ethos at the hospital prevented the pregnant woman's life from being saved by a medical termination.

Okay, fair enough, I suppose that's true. However, if we consider Dr. Gunter's words, Reilly appears to be ignoring the seemingly inevitable consequences of what he's saying here. If the Catholic ethos was not at responsible for this tragedy, either through Ireland's Catholicism-determined anti-abortion law or in through the practices of the medical staff at the hospital, then there is only one possible alternative. That alternative is that the medical staff involved were abysmally and ludicrously incompetent.

In the meantime there are candlelit vigils across Ireland in response to this tragedy. One might have hoped that the Irish authorities would take it a little more seriously.... D':



(Guardian - Ireland should change abortion law)
(Dr. Gunter considers the case)
(Reilly: No evidence Catholic ethos prevented Savita's life from being saved)
(Pharyngula weighs in)
(Images of vigils and protests)

philosoraptor42: (Default)
Okay, so I'm not exactly blown away by Obama. He's still pretty right wing, but that's typical US politics. The idea of accusing him of being a 'socialist' just because he wanted to offer the poor a slightly better healthcare deal is such a joke. I seriously don't get some of the rhetoric in America: 
"Hey, how about we make the public schools better?"
"FREE education? Are you some kind of a SOCIALIST or summat? Subsidise home schooling 'cause that'll help the people who actually pay INCOME TAX, otherwise we'll know that you're really some kind of Communist Nazi Hitler Guy."



So yeah, anyway, the Republicans seemed to go more absurdly right-wing than ever. I remember when we all thought George W Bush was ridiculous, but he's looking like a fairly moderate Republican by comparison to the new stars of the GOP. So thank goodness that the latest ultra right-wing satire-fodder didn't actually get elected. (I'm sorry if this sounds insulting, but I could totally believe there were enough Americans stupid enough to elect that guy.) I think liberal Americans need to demand more of Obama, but with an opposition like that I don't think they are going to get very far because, hey, who else are you gonna vote for?

So um, congratulations, I guess?


Anyway, so far so depressing (albeit with a pretty large sigh of relief, admittedly), but there's a silver lining! The election may have been one long slog somehow managing to be in equal parts boring and terrifying, but it did mean that we could get this video from a rapid Republican-supporting youtube lady. And Filmdrunk has the perfect accompanying pic (which I hope shows up below, but the Filmdrunk article is here just in case).


"FACEBOOK! TWITTER! ALL tools of the left!"

Without further ado, here's the crazy "Butterscotch lady" video. (Contains a lot of swearing btw.):
(video link - embedding disabled unfortunately)


Mirrored video here (hopefully this embed will continue working...):


(Via Ms Daisy Cutter)
philosoraptor42: (Default)


The Colorado shooting was on the 20th July. 3 weeks and 3 days ago.
The gunman attacking a Sikh Temple in Wisconsin was on the 6th August. 1 week ago.
Now just today there's been an attack on A&M University in Texas and at least two people, including a police officer were killed (not to mention those injured).

But naturally it's not too hard to find some moron saying how silly the libruls are to bring up gun control....
"When will liberals learn that it’s possible to confront a horrific event and mourn the loss of life without politicizing? In responding to this shooting and so many others in this way, the Left disgraces itself and belittles the victims and their loved ones. There is a time for gun policy discussion; this isn’t it."
Yeah, because the last thing a victim of gun crime would want was NOT TO BE SHOT.

If not now, then when will the ridiculous amount of gun crime in the US be worth discussing?

Read more... )

Meanwhile a firm believer in the constitution has been arrested for carrying a large arsenal of weapons into a cinema showing of The Dark Knight Rises "for self defence". After all, we know from gun advocates that the best way to deal with the threat of a shooting is to be armed yourself, right?:
"They asked to search the bag, DiSanto said, and inside found a loaded 9 mm semiautomatic handgun, two loaded magazine clips and three knives. Police said Smith was carrying another knife on his person.

"Smith told the off-duty officer he was carrying the gun and knives for protection, to protect himself and other moviegoers, said police, who took him into custody. A search of Smith’s home turned up more weapons, including rifles, shotguns and survivalist gear."
I'll leave Filmdrunk's sarcastic response to speak for itself:
What a miscarriage of justice. I’m sure those 80 people felt way safer knowing there was a pilled-up Army dropout survivalist armed to the teeth with knives strapped to his man tits there to protect them. I’m telling you, this country’s going down the sh*tter.

... DAMN YOU, OBAMA! THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU LET DEATH PANELS FORCE PEOPLE TO GAY MARRY EACH OTHER!
philosoraptor42: (Default)

(Via Bors Blog)

More details on the news story in this article here. That article also includes a poll where nearly 10% of votes currently say that it was okay to censor a woman for using the word "vagina" in a debate about abortion. Please do your part to lower that figure. :)
philosoraptor42: (Default)

Religious leaders furious over Norway’s proposed circumcision ban

by Barry Duke

JENNY Klinge,  Norway’s Centre Party justice policy spokeswoman, has angered religious leaders by condemning the ritual circumcision of infant boys. Calling it “outdated” and “dangerous”, she called for its ban. She said:

In my view, this is a custom that we cannot accept in a modern, civilized society. Our aim is to prioritise the rights of small children. Fortunately, it has become forbidden to circumcise girls, now it’s time for boys to get the same legal protection.

Jenny Klinge says the ritual circumcision of infant boys is barbarous

She stressed that boys who have been ritually circumcised can never remove what she called “a religious marker” if they choose to convert to another religion or have no religious beliefs.

I’m not buying the argument that banning circumcision is a violation of religious freedom, because such freedom must involve being able to choose for themselves.

Read more... )

Glen Poole, Strategic Director of The Men’s Network in Brighton & Hove, reports on his Ending Unnecessary Male Circumcision in the UK blog that the proposed ban had also been condemned by Espen Ottosen, Information Director of Misjonssambandet (Federation of Christian Missionaries), and a Muslim Norwegian physician, Mohammad Usman Rana, who voiced his opposition in a newspaper article entitled Circumcision: Those who will forbid circumcision of young boys in reality invite a totalitarian guardian-state.

Poole points out that pro-circumcisionists claim:

To circumcise boys is a minor operation. Internationally there is a plethora of medical studies which report few complications. We know that the procedure actually provides health benefits.  Urinary tract infections for example are far less common among circumcised boys.  The risk of HIV contamination is also reduced.

Poole counters:

We say all the reported health benefits have either been disproven, contradicted or considered too insignificant to justify the agreed risks and complications which include bleeding, infections, meatus stenosis (narrowing of the urethra) and panic attacks. There isn’t a single medical association in the world that supports the procedure. 

The British Medical Association, for example, stated in 2003 that ‘the medical benefits previously claimed have not been convincingly proven’ and ‘that the evidence concerning health benefits from non-therapeutic circumcision is insufficient for this alone to be a justification for doing it.

(Source: The Freethinker)

Nothing much to add to this except that I find it amusing to see a religious objection that protecting young children from abuse is "totalitarian". 'My goodness, laws against the mutilation of young boy's genitals? Parts of young children cut off in the privacy of my own home should be of no consequence to the government. It's the nanny state I say!'

Pretty much the only argument against this law is "what about freedom of religion?" and, to be frank, it's not looking like a strong case. You could make a similar argument for human sacrifice, though that has the added benefit that at least the person affected would be doing it of their own free will.

(x-posted to atheism)
philosoraptor42: (Default)


(video link)

This time Cardinal Keith O'Brien, the representative of the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland decides to come out with the same BS that we've seen in the past. He says that Christians are being persecuted for wearing crosses in public.

0:31 Beginning of relevant report.
2:24 Interview with Andrew Copson on the issue.

Andrew Copson from the British Humanist Association strikes again. Once again he explains very clearly and diplomatically why the latest "Christians are being marginalised" story is BS. (His phrasing: "their claims have very little basis in fact" rather than "they are making s**t up".)

Also liking the new beard. :)

Cardinal O'Brien has previously claimed that when the New Labour government were in power there was "a systematic and unrelenting attack on family values". Why's this? The introduction of civil partnerships, allowing adoption by same-sex couples, allowing embryo research and not passing a law to lower the legal time limit in which an abortion may be carried out. He also referred to the Equality Bill as "legislation which would completely and permanently undermine religious freedom". And now he has the audacity to push the lie that Christians' rights to wear crosses are under attack. Ugh!

(cross posted to [livejournal.com profile] atheism )
philosoraptor42: (Default)

Town councillor Simon Parkes: My mum was a 9ft green alien

Town councillor Simon Parkes has claimed his mother is a green alien and extra-terrestrials abducted him as a child.

Parkes believes a 2.7m (9ft) lifeform stood next to his cot when he was a baby and ‘two green stick things’ appeared.

‘I thought “they’re not mummy’s hands, mummy’s are pink,’ Mr Parkes said in a YouTube video.

‘I was looking straight into its face. It enters my mind through my eyes and it sends a message down my  optic nerve into my brain, saying “I am your real mother, I am your more important mother”.’

The extraterrestrial is said to have had huge eyes and tiny nostrils.
Mr Parkes, 52, said another alien  encounter occurred when he was three and had chicken pox.

A 2.4m (8ft) ‘doctor’ dressed as a waiter offered to help after Mr Parkes’s mother left him at home,  it is claimed.

Three years later his ‘real mother’ took him on board an alien craft.

‘The reason why extraterrestrials are interested in me is not because of my physical body but what’s inside – my soul,’ he said.

Mr Parkes, a Labour member elected to Whitby town council in North Yorkshire last month, says his beliefs have not interfered with his work.

‘For many of the people who don’t experience it, it’s very hard to accept.

‘We are taught to only see and  believe what we can touch, but it’s acceptable to believe in religion,’  he said.

‘I’m more interested in fixing someone’s roof or potholes.’

He added: ‘I get more common sense out of the aliens than out of Scarborough town hall. The aliens are far more aware of stuff.’

Terry Jennison, a fellow councillor in Whitby and former mayor of the town, said: ‘I am completely in the dark about this.’


If you are interested in hearing more about Simon Parkes' bizarre delusions there's a video here where, according to the video notes:
Simon Parkes discusses his highly detailed and complex contacts with Extra & Interdimensional beings called Mantis, and the Greys and Reptilians.
Okaaaaay....


(video link)

As you can see, above there is a brief point where he is questioning whether there is anything more strange about his beliefs and any religious belief. Okay, fair point, but we'd actually be pretty concerned if a politician in the UK started getting public about Rapture beliefs too.

X-posted to Atheism
X-posted to ONTD_P
philosoraptor42: (Default)


There's an article in The Guardian today about the Children's Commissioner who is who wants to stop young offenders from the recent riots being named by the media. I'm admittedly pretty much in agreement on that issue. Any information released by the press can lead to a trial being thrown out. It actually benefits the victims of the riots if information about these offenders remains confidential.

I am much more concerned by the Children's Commissioner's expressed principle that: "a child shall only ever be arrested or put in prison as a last resort and for the shortest possible time".

Why am I concerned about this?

Read more... )
philosoraptor42: (Default)
There are two sides to every story, but sometimes one of those sides is mainly BS.


With the recent story about France banning Muslim prayer my first reaction was that it was absurd. But then I thought about it...

Read more... )
(Main Source: EuroNews)



Muslims using the new space provided after the recent French ban on Muslim prayer.
philosoraptor42: (Default)
Shelagh Fogarty – BBC Radio Five - Wednesday 10th August

Shelagh Fogarty: Our reporter spoke to these looters in Manchester.

Interview with Rioters in Manchester )

Shelagh Fogerty: Well *sighs* let’s talk to Winston Smith. The author of a book called “Generation F” which deals with the issues of the so-called “underclass”. He’s also a former youth worker and writes a critical blog about the youth justice system.

Hello to you, Winston Smith.

Winston Smith: Hi there.

Leslie Pullman is a community campaigner and has worked with victims of anti-social behaviour in the Manchester area.

Hello Leslie.

Leslie Pullman: Hiya

That’s depressing listening isn’t it Winston Smith?

Winston Smith: It’s very depressing, but I’m not surprised at all and it reflects basically the work that I did in Manchester with the Youth Offending Service. I’m not at all surprised that that’s the type of attitude. Cause they’re saying that the government have failed to stop it, but they’ve been failing for years.

Theresa May was talking about the consequences. “People are going to see the consequences for these crimes.” Well, I can tell you that for those that are under 18, some of them will be in youth detention centres. They will be in rooms. They are not allowed to call them “cells”. They will have video games and televisions in those rooms. Look, I’m not advocating that they should be in dungeons or being treated inhumanely, but they should be punished.

For those that don’t end up in detention centres, they will be put on what’s called an intensive surveillance and supervision programme, which is part of the Youth Rehabilitation Order. While they are on that they will spend the majority of their time being driven by youth workers like me to play football, to go to gyms. They will be told that they themselves are victims of crime. It’s absolutely absurd.

Shelagh Fogerty: Leslie Pullman

Leslie Pullman: I couldn’t agree with more with what the gentleman’s just said. I was asked this question nine years ago when I was promoting ASBOs. I was asked repeatedly “why would they do this?” and it’s exactly what the gentleman said, because they can. And that the kids know they can do it, but you must understand when you’re looking at the pictures on the television, they’re not kids, a lot of them, they’re adults. And the adults are leading the kids, due to kids being let off being called criminals and being given these soft options. And they do it because they can, it’s exactly right. And they’re right, the government hasn’t stopped them. Not just this government, successive governments.

And it’s nothing to do with being disaffected, being black. It’s got nothing to do with all that. It’s opportunism.

Read more... )

For a limited time you can listen to the original interview at BBC Radio 5's website. Choose the programme for the 10th August (2011).

I had never believed things were this bad....

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