Archive for February, 2012
A Rhode Island teenager who battled her high school over the display of a prayer banner has received a $40,000-plus scholarship from those who supported her efforts.
Atheists are so cool!
Jessica Ahlquist, 16, won a court battle in January to have the prayer sign removed from Cranston High School West, a decision that outraged many in her school and community.
The battle began in July 2010 when Ahlquist informed the local chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union about a mural addressed to “Our Heavenly Father” that was displayed in the auditorium of her school. Ahlquist claimed in her lawsuit, filed through the American Civil Liberties Union, that the banner made her feel “ostracized and out of place.”
The mural has been in the school since 1963, and a school committee said it was “historical” and “artistic.”
A violation of the Constitution is a violation – regardless of how long you have been doing it.
The matter went before U.S. District Judge Ronald Lagueux who ruled Jan. 12 that “no amount of debate can make the school prayer anything other than a prayer.”
The school said it would not appeal the federal court’s decision.
Yeah! A wise choice.
Since the judgment was handed down, atheists and other supporters across the country have donated $42,000 to a scholarship fund for Ahlquist in order to show their support for her fight, according to Hemant Mehta, a blogger at the Friendly Atheist, who founded the scholarship fund.
If you wand to add money, go to Hemant’s site and look for the chip-in button. Donations end on Feb 29th!
“So many atheists around the country are amazed by what she did. It’s not easy to take a stand on a decision that’s so unpopular,” said Mehta, 28, who is a high school teacher in Illinois.
Mehta said that he had been following Ahlquist’s court case closely and saw her getting criticized and put down for her stance on the prayer banner. He wanted her to know she had support, and so he contacted the American Humanists Association and asked them to help set up a trust fund for Ahlquist. He then began collecting money on his website.
“Freedom From Religion [an atheist group] wanted to send flowers to her, and none of the florists in Rhode Island would even deliver flowers to her,” Mehta said. “A state representative called her evil in an interview. Every time stories come up about how people are treating this 16-year-old girl, my heart just goes out to her and I want to help her in some way.”
Mehta referred to a radio interview in January in which state representative Peter Palumbo called Ahlquist an “evil little thing.”
“This didn’t happen in the Bible Belt,” Mehta said. “This happened in Rhode Island. A Rhode Island state representative called her evil, when in my perspective she’s just defending the Constitution.”
Ahlquist did not respond to requests for comment today, but Mehta said he believed the high school junior was aware of the scholarship fund, which could be used for tuition, room and board or books.
Muslim Attacks Atheist – Muslim Judge Lets Muslim Go Free And Belittled The Atheist – This Is In The USA!Posted in atheists, Islam on February 25th, 2012 by Phil Ferguson – 3 Comments
Muslim Attacks Atheist
Judge Lets Muslim Go Free And Belittled The Atheist
Atheist Makes Story Public
Judge Threatens Atheist.
The Pennsylvania State Director of American Atheists, Inc., Mr. Ernest Perce V., was assaulted by a Muslim while participating in a Halloween parade. Along with a Zombie Pope, Ernest was costumed as Zombie Muhammad. The assault was caught on video, the Muslim man admitted to his crime and charges were filed in what should have been an open-and-shut case. That’s not what happened, though.
This is a friend of mine. Here is the video…. (the quality is crappy)
Is Mr. Perce being rude? provocative? offensive? Maybe. It does not matter! He is free to Say what he wants; as are you and I.
This reminds me of one of my favorite quotes….
Free speech is meant to protect unpopular speech. Popular speech, by definition, needs no protection. – Neal Boortz
We can say the the pope is a fool and that Mohamed is a false prophet. A Christian or Muslim can say that I am wrong and will burn in hell. These are words – that is all. What is not allowed is attacking another person.
The defendant is an immigrant and claims he did not know his actions were illegal, or that it was legal in this country to represent Muhammad in any form. To add insult to injury, he also testified that his 9 year old son was present, and the man said he felt he needed to show his young son that he was willing to fight for his Prophet.
Big bearded man has to show off for his boy by attacking a costume character in a parade? How brave and pious!
Here is what happened in court (via no god blog) ….
The Judge not only ruled in favor of the defendant, but called Mr. Perce a name and told him that if he were in a Muslim country, he’d be put to death. Judge Martin’s comments included,
“Having had the benefit of having spent over 2 and a half years in predominantly Muslim countries I think I know a little bit about the faith of Islam. In fact I have a copy of the Koran here and I challenge you sir to show me where it says in the Koran that Mohammad arose and walked among the dead. I think you misinterpreted things. Before you start mocking someone else’s religion you may want to find out a little bit more about it it makes you look like a dufus and Mr. (Defendant) is correct. In many Arabic speaking countries something like this is definitely against the law there. In their society in fact it can be punishable by death and it frequently is in their society.
Judge Martin then offered a lesson in Islam, stating,
“Islam is not just a religion, it’s their culture, their culture. It’s their very essence their very being. They pray five times a day towards Mecca to be a good Muslim, before you die you have to make a pilgrimage to Mecca unless you are otherwise told you can not because you are too ill too elderly, whatever but you must make the attempt. Their greetings wa-laikum as-Salâm (is answered by voice) may god be with you. Whenever, it’s very common when speaking to each other it’s very common for them to say uh this will happen it’s it they are so immersed in it.
Judge Martin further complicates the issue by not only abrogating the First Amendment, but completely misunderstanding it when he said,
“Then what you have done is you have completely trashed their essence, their being. They find it very very very offensive. I’m a Muslim, I find it offensive. But you have that right, but you’re way outside your boundaries or first amendment rights. This is what, and I said I spent about 7 and a half years living in other countries. when we go to other countries it’s not uncommon for people to refer to us as ugly Americans this is why we are referred to as ugly Americans, because we are so concerned about our own rights we don’t care about other people’s rights as long as we get our say but we don’t care about the other people’s say”
But wait, it gets worse. The Judge refused to allow the video into evidence, and then said,
“All that aside I’ve got here basically.. I don’t want to say he said she said but I’ve got two sides of the story that are in conflict with each other.”
“The preponderance of, excuse me, the burden of proof… “
“…he has not proven to me beyond a reasonable doubt that this defendant is guilty of harassment, therefore I am going to dismiss the charge”
ABC News covers the story!
Oh…. the shit is hitting the fan!
Well, American Atheists and Mr. Perce made this story public and posted the audio from the trail on the web. The juice bit is at 28:30.
We now have this new part of the story Scranton Atheism Examiner...
Judge Mark Martin – the presiding judge of the court proceeding — is threatening to hold Perce in contempt of court for releasing recorded audio of the case even though, according to Perce, Perce was given permission to release the audio.
Stay tuned for more….
Post by Jim Newman
Eskeptic has an article on pet therapy “Zootherapy Debunked” by Charles Danten. Starting with an examination of Boris Levinson, the early popularizer of pet therapy, he lists the various people who have published support for using animals for therapy. Originally popularized in the 60’s and 70’s, it was thought having pets helped with emotional problems in adults, discipline and maturity development in children, and physical health in adults.
Zootherapy or animal-assisted therapy is relatively new and popular but anyone reading old literature or Native American literature remembers well the eating of animals used for work, when food or need was low. Indeed we used to be often in opposition to animals–grizzlies were the biggest killers of California coastal Native Americans. The civilized desire to deutilize animals has imprisoned them and continued suffering. Schopenhauer the pessimist notes the benefit to horses when machines could provide transportation. Much of modern sympathy to animals results from the horrid ways in which they were used in the Civilization Infrastructure Process.
Like slaves the question became could you get more work out of them if you treated them better and did they really need to live longer? Are they easy enough to replenish? It sounds horrid to us now but lest you think you are above speciesism consider the following.
Dogs kept alone or isolated suffer severe separation anxiety. They are social animals and require tremendous exercise and companion animals. Barking dogs and meowing cats are never happy animals. Humans just don’t consider this suffering as important as their perceived need for the animal. We value freedom in ourselves but not in other animals. They are not trying to tear our flesh off, at this moment, so they must be happy. We breed out aggression but prize our pit bulls.
We assuage this feeling by thinking at least we don’t eat them. We act shocked that someone would eat a horse, dog, or cat—common foods in other countries—but really that is just a poor social construct. Horses and other pets are often maintained in bad circumstances because the owners become bored and can’t or won’t sell them off, even for food. Too many of them get dumped, often on my farm!
Hell, it’s popular to rescue pigs here and kep them in confinement rather than have them slaughtered. The belief is that enhancing the nurturing feeling toward animals encourages the pacifying and civilizing process. This panders to nurturing people and feminine personalities. At least this turkey, pig, goat got saved. But this animal was raised to be killed and can’t live in the wild, or even breed like a normal animal. The best way to save a pig is not to buy one and go vegetarian. Just keeping an animal alive isn’t a blessing. Most animals don’t know how to commit suicide but they do know how to bark, whine, yelp, scratch, shit, and have a desire to breed.
Danten debunks the following animal myths:
Alleged General health benefits. Dogs keep owners from walking fast enough, and are difficult enough to walk, they decrease the occurrence of walking; and not because unhealthy people use pets to make themselves more healthy.
“Leena K. Koivusilta and Ansa Ojanlatva showed that pet owners are sick more often and have a below-average amount of exercise: 26% of the pet owners in the study were overweight, compared with 21% for those who did not have pets; 16% of the pet owners exercised less than once a month in comparison to 2% for those without pets.
Alleged Educational Benefits. Pets actually teach children to be disrespectful of animals. They know they can be mistreated and survive. They learn to abuse animals and that it is acceptable.
“Man does not hesitate to control every aspect of his animals’ existence. He tampers with his appearance. He confines it to spaces under his control, imposing exclusive or near-exclusive proximity. He limits his communication with others like it. He imposes his whims and self serving decisions. He chooses for behaviors that meet his expectations and conditions his animal to follow rituals. He encloses it within his own emotions and projections.
Alleged Benefits for Disabled and Autistic Children. Research simply does not support this claim. Dolphin-assisted therapy has long been considered beneficial to people.
“Nearly a decade following our initial review, there remains no compelling evidence that Dolphin-Assisted therapy (DAT) is a legitimate therapy, or that it affords any more than a fleeting improvement in mood.
Alleged Redeeming Benefits for Prisoners. These studies were never peer reviewed or were never published in scientific journals. They are self avowed beneficial anecdotes full of conformation bias. What people love is control and if they can’t control their social circle they can control animals. But that feel-good feeling does not enhance health and is lousy for the animal. It prevents people from getting depressed or angry enough to get outside or gain help.
Just because an animal is alive does not mean it is good. Only when you believe in a soul does more life, more pregnancy, more birthing, have a benefit or meaning.
Alleged Social Benefits. Pets actually take one away from social exposure.
“The twice-daily obligation of taking one’s dog for a walk appears to be insufficient to promote the social interactions attributed to zootherapy, and all the more so for cats, which are more popular than dogs and hardly ever leave their apartments. In addition, the presence of an animal on the street can be just as easily an obstacle to haphazard social interaction as a facilitator of it. In reality, the dog walker often has to keep far away from others because of the fear he arouses (in children, in the presence of other, incompatible dogs, out of fear of allergies or of dogs in general).
It appears that some people enjoy controlling animals but that it doesn’t make them more healthy, physically, socially, or psychologically.
Going one step further, I maintain that our need to control animals is not just an extension of our past culture, it is legitimized by the bible and our generally religious cultural-underpinnings in the US and world. We are to be stewards, according to the best feeling of the bible, but we do not hesitate to hunt bison and other animals to near extinction or make then suffer to our benefit, which is not even necessary to sufficient to make us more healthy. A least a work horse produced corn–and we could blame resource need for that.
If we weren’t so able to be bipolar about animals, hunt them to extinction and keep them as pets, we could better control our population densities such that resource issues would be virtually nonexistent. Our ability to own animals is directly linked to our ability to hunt them to extinction.
I do have pets. But it is embarrassing. I often feel like Thomas Jefferson and slavery. I am not yet for full animal emancipation either. But my daughter has chosen to be a vegetarian and to not have pets at all. I wonder if I should get rid of the draft horses, chickens, hogs, and cat, and eat black beans and rice. But this article is not about that. It is about how animal-assisted therapy doesn’t work.
Jim Newman, bright and well
As of this morning I weigh 235! Total loss of 12 LBS and down 2 from last week. I only have to lose 8 more to make by goal of March 23rd. I have almost 4 weeks to lose 8 LBS, I can do this!
Every week is a struggle but the results are starting to show. I can now fit into some old jeans that were too small and I need a new belt, all of mine belts are now too big. When I get to my goal I may need to buy some new pants. The bad news is that some of my favorite shirts are starting to look baggie. I guess the clothes being too big is better then them all being too small.