We Need Buffer Zones

Posted by Jim Newman on June 27th, 2014 – Be the first to comment – Posted in Women's Rights

anti-abortion-activists1SCOTUS in a duplicitous and pathetic pandering to fetus lovers has claimed Buffer Z0nes are unconstitutional. That they have their own buffer zone is accommodated because, after all, someone could harass or attack them. This is a bunch of Catholic, Jewish, and Protestants who see themselves as paradigms of their faith staunchly supporting the harassment of women and men.

I’ll start worrying about SCOTUS needing a buffer zone when their doors are bombproof, staff hide behind bulletproof glass, and all supporters-visitors of the court demand escorts to make it through waves of jeering, sneering, imploring, screeching, and threatening protestors, uhhh street counselors. Until then it’s clear that these threatened people need more distance from their hot-headed protestors who have shown a wanton willingness to escalate to violence to save a few fetuses.

As if buffer zones weren’t everywhere including on public property. Crime scenes, medical scenes, emergency scenes, construction scenes, moving scenes, parades, public art, and protest scenes all have used buffers successfully to keep people out of harm’s way, or potential harm, or harm to something else. It’s not that the risk is low. If you work or use some of these clinics your life is at risk. The beauty of buffer zones is that even a small space helps prevent escalation of violence. It’s why separating fighters works. It’s why lawyers caucus. The protection of privacy is an acknowledgment of the utility of preventing contact. … By this new measure or privacy Roe vs Wade is soon doomed.

Yet these lovers of fetuses say they are not protestors, they are street counselors. How does that go? Street counsel this asshole. Yelling in someone’s face is not counseling. It’s impossible not to be angry at the judges overturning this well-precedented tradition of safety. The court has proven it is not merely a respecter of religions but sees itself as the judicial arm of the new theocracy. It’s counseling, it’s about babies, it’s about speech. Bullshit, it is about following religious dogma regardless of law. It’s about using theology to inform the basic content of law. Until all of those texts where it says breed like flies, and the hermeneutics of fetuses as adult-person life, change, the rest is political maneuvering.

I can see SCOTUS now plotting, “we’ll get rid of buffer zones but keep cellphone data private.” I guess poor women, usually ethnic don’t count.

It would have been easy to leave this to local law and kick it back. What is a good buffer zone in one state could be different than another. Now all buffer zones to abortion clinics can be made to disappear.

There are no personal space laws in the US. It’s all based on contact. The provoker is not guilty unless they have actually touched the other person in threatening or harmful ways. Appropriate personal space is very different for citizens. I can be at a rock concert and people will do the most hilarious contortions to be sure they don’t touch knees or feet. In other cultures you can’t get them off you–you will achieve contact often. This is the heart against so called inter-human speech buffer zones. Yet it is often expanded in time of protests where one side lines up over here and that side lines up over here and there is space. My first spouse was a peacekeeper at Rocky Flats Missile Base, it’s all about keeping emotions down often with carefully planned buffer zones.

It’s sad as SCOTUS again showed it’s willing to do a Christianized version of Sharia where it’s less important to help people than to make their life difficult because they are sinners. Isn’t that the real point? To disguise their basic antipathy of rights.

It would make more sense if this were like a massive war or economic protest. It is nonsense that saving fetuses will save the family and  will save the country. If more children would help the planet it would be obvious. If fetus saving were a worthy symbol of anything but being religious it would be helpful. It’s just simple abuse to mostly poor women. It’s creating an artificially high bar to exclude people from their rich, religious, white club in one more way. You have to run the gauntlet to prove you’re worthy of getting an exam, doing some birth control, or having an abortion.

The value of protest ends when violence is served pretentiously without regard. How is it we can’t even get to some basic courteousness and civility? What about the women that are traumatized just be walking through this shit? We bear the cost of their negative experiences. Is this how the religious expect to gain converts? Is this what they mean by black evangelizing?

Jim Newman, bright and well www.frontiersofreason.com

Dr Oz and FDA Skewered on John Oliver Show

Posted by Jim Newman on June 24th, 2014 – Be the first to comment – Posted in Science

oz and oprahOne can hope that Oz was so transparent that apologists would say “Hey I follow him because it gives me a bit of hope and not because I think the crap is effective.” At least we’d have some approachable honesty to accept, over which to be gracious. The complete lack of regulation on any chemical not legally a drug until it has harmed a sufficient number of people, as to finally raise the somnambulant head of the FDA, in grudging acknowledgment, makes it easy for charlatans like OZ to sell snake oil piss. They carefully skirt the truth or use such grand hyperbole that it can’t be considered a reasonable description by anyone.

There are those in public that would not give a damn about evidence, witnessing, or studies because it seems real to them. That’s why we need warnings and the FDA needs teeth.

It’s actually legally OK to say snake oil piss is magical and will miraculously cure you overnight with one dose as long as no one has been hurt using the shit. The only product incentive is to be sure the snake oil piss has no effects whatsoever. That way at least you can always claim the research to be inconclusive–if the FDA ever does wake up and look the direction of the sleep-offending elixir. It used to be a dollup of alcohol was all that was needed for effectivity. ABC laws made sure that even that small “blessing” disappeared. Oh for the days when snake oil piss had a real kick. Or when cough syrups actually stopped coughs, made you able to sleep better, and gave you that opium warmth. Oh for Coca-Cola that did have that bit of blow to perk you up, and keep you working. This would be a side effect. Be sure that new product does absolutely nothing!

The public in both economy and alterability have made sure that snake oil piss is both ineffective and safe as water–though it’s good if there can be some color change in your pee or skin, or something. The mental energy of someone like OZ must be incredible to actually believe in these products. Much like the believe-in-belief religious types, it’s not whether it’s truly effective but does it comfort? But the heat of dissonance. And Oh what that service is worth in today’s dollars. Like lottery tickets where states are no better as it’s the poor that pay for them in false hope that just dreaming is worth the money.

Oliver slams the supplement industry beautifully.

Jim Newman, Bright and well www.frontiersofreason.com

Deconstructing Feminist & Atheist Babies

Posted by Jim Newman on June 18th, 2014 – Be the first to comment – Posted in Uncategorized

jewish babyThere is a schizophrenic attitude (at least) towards what we call babies. Richard Dawkins has said all babies are atheists. On the other hand he tweeted that this is droll yet too contentious to be a speaking point. Joyce Carol Oates has said there are no misogynist babies. We will take that as meaning all babies are feminists. Others have said babies are born sexists by virtue of gender and anatomy issues.

Andrew Brown calls a halt to all of this, in a polemic against Dawkins, by saying his babies are cultural since atheism is really just another religion. Chinese babies are Chinese by virtue of their birth location. Brown implies we can only accurately nomer a baby  by an inherent trait or physiology. There are Down’s Syndrome babies, colicky babies, and even the occasional, good natured baby (will that endure as they age?).

Some Muslims will never speak of “converts” but only “reverts” because they believe that everyone is born a Muslim, even if some babies have this truth hidden from them by their parents who tell them they’re Christians or atheists. And there’s a style of atheist rhetoric that makes exactly the same point. To take two random examples from my recent Twitter stream: Joan Smith wrote: “I’m not convinced there are Muslim or Christian children. They have religious parents, but should be able to decide when they grow up.” And Richard Dawkins wrote: “When you say X is the fastest growing religion, all you mean is that X people have babies at the fastest rate. But babies have no religion.”

But there are no atheist babies, and certainly no agnostic ones. This is for two reasons. The first is that if we’re going to be consistent, and to demand that babies only be ascribed identities that they themselves embrace, there are no German, British or Chinese children either. There are simply the children of German and English and Chinese parents, who will in due course learn the habits and the rules of the cultures around them and grow into their parents’ language, nationality, food habits – and religious opinions. The way in which they express these will become more subtle and more interesting as they grow up – or at least we can hope it will – but the fact remains that babies are entirely anchored in the world by their parents.

Babies bear the brunt of being called whatever others choose. Babies cannot self avow (if they could they’d probably say STFU). They cannot verbally say “I am a gay baby” for example.

But you don’t get Dawkins and Smith complaining because people talk about “Chinese babies”. They think religion is different. Well, it is. For one thing, and despite the existence of loathsome and barbaric laws against apostasy, in most of the world it’s much easier to change your religion than your language or nationality. It is generally accepted that changing your religion is a human right, but changing your nationality is not. The big difference is that religions usually make it hard to leave and nationalities usually make it hard to enter. But in neither case does an individual get to choose as if no one else were involved. To imply that babies have a default theological position of atheism is as silly as assuming that they have a default language or nationality.

Brown claims that atheism is more of a political position than an inherent trait. He claims that all babies are born with a supernatural ability. The problem here is he assumes babies and humans can discern the one from the other. Human development is a long road of untangling the real from the unreal. Since babies and adults can be inculcated and self fabricate reality it would be better to say babies are born imagineers which includes the realism involved.

There is another reason why babies can’t be atheists or agnostics. Everything we know from science shows that supernaturalism comes naturally to children. It is not just that they believe much of what their parents and the surrounding societies tell them: they show a preference for remembering and transmitting stories that defy scientific rationality. So do we all, unless we train ourselves out of it.

Multiple meanings can be assigned to babies in the sense of Amish which means both a religion and a culture, and usually a heredity and past geography. I wonder what being a born patriot would imply? A baby that has a circumcision os is genitally altered bears this physical cultural attribute for life.

While all of this is greatly entertaining if one has had enough to drink, the point is really that babies don’t have a religious belief system at birth–some ability to construct internal realities doesn’t count as a religion. The point of feminist babies is that they really haven’t learned inequality or misogyny yet. Indeed most babies seem to love women or at least the nourishment they give them. So babies are born lovers. A love baby is something quite different.

While I find this most entertaining, I must consider the implications of being a born atheist or feminist. Atheism is trusting evidence. All evidence points towards equality and justice towards others as being the best and typical way of human well being and survival. At least if we consider our tenure here as sufficiently long. By that count babies are born humanists and feminists purely by being born atheist. Our genetic inclination towards justice and equality are tainted by inherent biases. Nevertheless even culturally we have sought equality and justice in spite of a rather large amount of aggression. We haven’t killed each other off, yet, and cooperation has allowed us to become dominant.

In a factual sense at least it is true that a Chinese baby was born in China though recent immigrants may call their baby a Chinese baby virtually by the culture they wish to impose on their baby irregardless of geography. Are we having fun yet?

The disjunct is too many say atheism is just an absence of gods.That is all fine and good but how do they arrive at that conclusion? They say there isn’t enough evidence, or if they are rationalists, there is no rational proof of god(s). Yet they wish to divorce their conclusion from the process.

It’s as if to say there are no Tea Pots in the sky because no one has seen them but then say it doesn’t matter whether they’ve been seen or not because it’s not about the observation. Of course it is. What atheists are really saying is they are scientists with a smattering of rationality thrown in. Babies are born scientists. Or babies are born observationalists. Or babies are born thinking machines.

What people do when describing babies is to communicate something about that baby they wish to be true or that may exist to some degree. This gets sloppy when people don’t know or disagree what is cultural versus genetic. They will call their babies whatever they goddamned please. Clearly the babies need legal representation and probably therapy by this point.

To reach the state where you can really reflect critically on your own beliefs – rather than simply understanding that your parents are deluded old fools – takes a long time if it ever happens at all. As Bertrand Russell observed, many people would rather die than think and most of them do. And that is why no one can really be called an atheist or an agnostic until they have grown up.

Hmm, they may not think about being a born depressive until they’ve grown up either, or gay, or many other aspects. A Jewish baby may not deal with his circumcision for some time.

That babies are x, y, or z becomes a talking point with the poor little bastard of unmarried logic and science not even having a say.

Like all good deconstruction arguments there are no conclusions other than to make the discussion troublesome. What is important is to consider what one is saying when they assert born atheist, born feminist, or born theistic. Putting it this away it seems unlikely that babies are born theistic. They other two seem quite reasonable. I would hope no one would wish to claim their baby was born sexist or misogynist but then … No, no, stop, please.

Jim Newman, bright and well. www.frontiersofreason.com

Shelly Segal’s New Album, “An Easy Escape”

Posted by Jim Newman on June 16th, 2014 – Be the first to comment – Posted in Uncategorized

an easy escapeShelly Segal has anew album out, “An Easy Escape.” One of the songs, Morocco, has angered some for its depiction of drug use in Morocco.

“I clicked on it (the article) and put it in Google translate and it said: `Young Australian singer writes song very critical of Morocco,’ Segal said.

“And then it said later that I had denounced the kingdom. Which I have never done.”

Segal said the song focuses on her positive experience as a tourist and how accessible she found the country, alongside some of the social issues she noticed while she was there.

“It’s just to contrast that situation as a tourist and having fun and getting to escape my troubles, contrasted with some troubles local people are facing and questioning what is my place here … and what troubles do I actually have,” she said.

Segal also sings about being offered weed in the marketplace and about playing music with an eight-year-old boy who she noticed was “high as a kite from sniffing glue all night and… I wondered if he’d make it to 16″. The song’s chorus includes the lines: “Shelley do you want to go fly in the sky / Shelley don’t you want to get high and watch all your worries and troubles pass you by”.

“I have dreadlocks and people called out ‘Hey Rasta, do you want to buy some weed’ and that was the refrain, literally, of my trip so that fell naturally into the chorus of my song,” Segal said.

“There were quite a few children in the square at night that had been, they sniff glue, it’s quite a common thing in Marrakesh.”

It’s pathetic the binary view so many people have about all or any drugs. Once you begin to pay attention to your body you begin to realize so many foods and common drugs whether over the counter, in the grocery store, or illegal, have dramatic effects on your body. The common emphasis away from the body leads to a skewed discussion. Any chemical that alters awareness or makes you feel different becomes a drug. I don’t know about you but salt gives me the jitters. Aspirin makes my feel happier even when I am not in pain. It is quite possible to accept the use of drugs while deploring the addiction to drugs. Which drug, which population, to what extent, for what reason? Oh yeah, we don’t do nuance now.

“An Easy Escape” is about having a good time while observing what’s going on around you. More like a vacation than an escape. Most vacations have their dark side.

Beat Magazine interviews and she echoes what many artists say. They want their music to have multiple messages.

“I want there to be two levels of enjoyment,” she says. “[It’s OK] if people who listen to my music just like music and they like to hear a beat and some cool percussive lyrics sung in a pretty voice. But I also want to provide, for people who want more out of music, something to take away and think about. Those two elements are what I love about music and what’s enriched my musical experiences.” …

It’s a collection of songs that I’ve written over quite a few years,” she says. “This album feels a lot broader – this is more open to interpretation than the last record, which was very literal. Some of the songs on the record are travel songs, some of them are about love and relationships and experiences. All those things you can kind of escape into.

“Through the songs spanning over several years, it creates its own theme,” she continues, “because you’re changing and growing and the threads you carry through your life continue through your songs.”

That is the great thing about art isn’t it? Multiple messages, sometimes contradictory. Art is philosophy made physical but with much more freedom. Not so easy to translate to logic, A or B if not C equals D. Or as Laurie Anderson says in “Big Science” “Let x = x. Allow me to continue with this tangent.

What really pisses me off is related to comments that make gross remarks about women who are expressing themselves.

“A lot of people are saying that I’m a fat cow and that’s the most common comment really,” Ms Segal said.

These jerks deserve to be required to have mandatory therapy and care training. We are told laugh it off but it is evidence and root cause of worse things to come.

“An Easy Escape” is about positive experiences though.

They’ve still got that folk aesthetic, where they’ve got some substance to the lyrics,” she says, “but he’s really brought this upbeat sound [to it]. During the recording he drew pictures of a smiling sun and he stuck them in every muso’s booth. He was like, ‘Look at the sun. We’re playing happy sounds!’

“I think it’s nice to have that upbeat feel,” she adds, “because a lot of my songs – especially my love songs – are pretty sad and contemplative. It’s nice to have something upbeat keeping everything pumping along.”

Jim Newman, bright and well www.frontiersofreason.com

Related articles.

Father’s Day is a Good day for Protesting Family Planning Clinics

Posted by Jim Newman on June 14th, 2014 – Be the first to comment – Posted in Women's Rights

buffer zoneNearly everyone agrees the Westboro Baptist church is out there. Even many of  the religious see it as extreme. Yet, protestors at Planned Parenthood and other abortion clinics create a gauntlet of jeers, prayers, and singers sometimes every day. Many attempting to get medical service at these clinics have to deal with humiliation, intimidation, and harassment–there’s an incentive. They may just be going to the clinic for a check up. Can you see some young couple seeking advice or help in this environment? I bet a lot of kids would rather just risk it–hell, as a big, white, male adult I’d be intimidated.

Protesters at the edge of a buffer zone show what fun it is to get family planning aid. This group is the Catholic “Helpers of God’s Precious Infants.” Really makes you want to stay at home. While claiming they are peaceful protestors, too many employees remember Dr Tiller’s murder a few years ago. Now the ever-friendly bullet-proof glass greets you. It’s still not safe.

antiabortion protestors“I don’t wear a bulletproof vest, but I never go outside in my scrubs – not ever. I feel like that’s just smart,” said Leah Torres, MD, OBGYN and reproductive health specialist. “Every time I walk into a Planned Parenthood clinic, I have to be wary of the reality. I can’t pretend that I’m in Salt Lake City and everything is hunky dory. There are crazy people everywhere.”

The list of people murdered serves as warning.

Dr. George Tiller: May 31, 2009
Dr. Barnett Slepian: October 23, 1998
Security Guard Robert Sanderson: January 29, 1998
Receptionist Shannon Lowney: December 30, 1994
Receptionist Lee Ann Nichols: December 30, 1994
Dr. John Britton: July 29, 1994
Clinic Escort James Barrett: July 29, 1994
Dr. David Gunn: March 10, 1993

Creating buffer zones so protesters aren’t literally in your face is debated in courts. Protesting at clinics is like just something to do on the weekend–bring chips and salsa–heck, every day, all day, all night. Religious protesting is a lifestyle. And they say atheists are angry, militant, in your face?

Outside the Planned Parenthood Clinic in Boston on a recent winter day are the regulars — a small, devoted team of anti-abortion activists, handing out fliers and urging patrons to hear their message:
“Save that child.” “Every life is precious, protect that life within you.” “Please change your mind.” Several people pray silently nearby.

Clearly marked on the sidewalk, nearly 12 yards from the front doors, is a painted boundary, a line the protesters cannot cross. By state law, their First Amendment rights stop there.

What fun for all.

With a large cross around her neck, the 77-year-old grandmother often uses a baby stroller as a prop, along with a portable DVD player with images of a fetal ultrasound. On a recent day, she was seen standing at the edge of the yellow semicircle ringing the Boston clinic on Commonwealth Avenue.

In Winter Park, Fl protesters thought it would be cool to go to the homes of employees and protest there. Just so employees won’t forget their Christian love. The city created buffer zones, the police were confused, it went to court and the protestors lost. This story is repeating across the country.

Winter Park, Fla., passed the ordinance after 30 anti-abortion protesters lined up outside the home of Orlando Planned Parenthood CEO Jenna Tosh in August 2012 and would not leave until it began to rain.

They held signs with Tosh’s name showing graphic images and phrases such as “baby killer.” They shouted her name in between chants and songs.

Part of the ordinance passed the following month states: “It shall be unlawful for any person or persons to picket, protest or conduct any picketing or protesting activity within a buffer area of 50 feet from the property line of any dwelling unit in the city of Winter Park.”

The judge got it right.

“The object of the ordinance is not to infringe on the free exercise of religion, and though it may impact religiously motivated protesters, it impacts all protesters the same,” he added. “The object instead is the protection of the city’s residents in their homes from intrusive conduct, no matter the religious beliefs (or lack thereof) of the protesters outside.”

In addition to denying both a restraining order and an injunction, Dalton dismissed the complaint with prejudice.

“With Prejudice” sounds so sweet. The case cannot be retried.

Here’s a video of what a client would see on their way to the EMW clinic in Louisville Kentucky today, Father’s Day, 2014

What a great way to observe Father’s Day. But if you’re religious and you miss today there is always next Saturday, and stay the night. Jerks everywhere claiming their business is your reproductive system. But hey soon the problem will disappear as heinous laws are causing the loss of clinics everywhere. This will ensure only the rich will be able to do family planning. Go on a health vacation to another country! The rich have better children anyway, right?

If god wanted these women to be saved with proper medical care he’d do it.

The needless death of Savita Halappanavar last year, after a Catholic hospital refused to terminate her doomed pregnancy, drew a worldwide outpouring of fury against the religious dogmatism that killed her.

But as I wrote at the time, Savita’s story was only the tip of the iceberg. What happened to her wasn’t a fluke or an aberration: it was and is the official policy of the church that if a pregnant woman’s life can be saved by abortion, it’s better to let two die than to save one.

As hospitals merge the percent of them that are religion based is increasing, from 16% in 2010 to ? in 2025. You have to be lucky and not live in the wrong area. In Wisconsin it is 30%. Often in rural areas there is no choice but to go to a religion-based hospital, with only their brand of care. Half of the OB/GYN staff at religion-based hospitals have issues with their demanded standards of care.

Is it any wonder that home-remedies, homeopathy, vitamins, diet, and just plain-ass staying sick and hoping for the best is the new standard of care? Not to mention being publicly and privately intimidated for wanting to use birth control or have an abortion. Yep, the religious are so peaceful, charitable, and kind–unless you’re a woman or a man trying to help a woman.

If I didn’t live so far from a clinic I’d grab a cooler, some food and beverage, and do a counter sit-in, or be an escort, but I can’t afford the gas. Luckily, I had a vasectomy. That must be really frustrating to the prolife-misery folks.

Jim Newman, bright and well www.frontiersofreason.com

Catholic Admin is Blind, Oblivious, or Lying

Posted by Jim Newman on June 11th, 2014 – 1 Comment – Posted in Catholic Church

taumTwo news items reveal how intransigent the Catholic church is in dealing with its abuse issues. The first follows the development of an investigative panel on the abuse of children in Ireland. The initial report was on buried children at Taum.

Church leaders in Galway, western Ireland, have said they had no idea so many children who died at the orphanage had been buried there, and have pledged to support local efforts to mark the spot with a plaque listing all 796 children.

County Galway death records showed that the children, mostly babies and toddlers, had died, often of sickness or disease, during the 35 years the home operated from 1926 to 1961, according to Corless’s research. The building, which had previously been a workhouse for homeless adults, was torn down decades ago to make way for houses.

A 1944 government inspection recorded evidence of malnutrition among some of the 271 children then living in the Tuam orphanage alongside 61 unwed mothers. The death records cited sicknesses, diseases, deformities and premature births as causes. In the first half of the 20th century Ireland had one of the worst infant mortality rates in Europe, with tuberculosis rife.

It was happening all over Ireland. The quote says apparently but it was rampant. Ireland had been destitute with high infant mortality at least since the potato famine of 1845.

The staggering mortality rate of “The Home” was apparently replicated elsewhere in Ireland.

It would seem it’s just disease. Because of long term poverty, lack of cleanliness, and a belief that it was their lot in life.

According to death records, the little ones were fragile, pot-bellied, emaciated and died as late as 1961 from malnutrition and infectious diseases such as measles and TB.

But it was not that there was just insufficient food available. No they were starved, abused, and ostracized.

Special kinds of neglect and abuse were reserved for the Home Babies, as locals call them. Many in surrounding communities remember them. They remember how they were segregated to the fringes of classrooms, and how the local nuns accentuated the differences between them and the others. They remember how, as one local told the Irish Central, they were “usually gone by school age — either adopted or dead.”

According to Irish Central, a 1944 local health board report described the children living at the Home as “emaciated,” “pot-bellied,” “fragile” and with “flesh hanging loosely on limbs.”

How would anyone not know of this happening? How is this startling? With an incredibly long history of poverty and religious wars the only news was when there was a resurgence of wealth followed by a crash, which then made it even more impossible for people to afford to live there.

Unfortunately the over 350,800 children suspected to be in Catholic child mass graves sites in three countries paled in number to Catholic Priest sex abuse victims across the globe. As of November 2013 over ten million Catholic Priest child sex abuse cases have been documented as shown here. These 10,077,574 cases represented a mere fraction of total crimes committed. Only an estimated 10% of sex abuse victims were thought to speak out about their sex abuse and just 10% of those cases saw the inside of a court room.

Having a child out of wedlock was considered evil, beyond  redemptive sin.

Since there was simply no question of the birth mothers keeping their children – the shame was thought too ruinous – they lost all future claim to them. Their punishment was to work without wages for two or three years in atonement for their sins. In the homes they wore uniforms at all times, they had their names changed and they had their letters censored.

Erasure. The living dead without identity.

“When daughters became pregnant, they were ostracized completely,” Corless said. “Families would be afraid of neighbors finding out, because to get pregnant out of marriage was the worst thing on Earth. It was the worst crime a woman could commit, even though a lot of the time it had been because of a rape.”

Children were used for vaccination trials in duplicity. This may seem unimportant since diphtheria in 1930 was the third largest cause of death in children but these tests were done in secret. At the time it was not known whether vaccines were dangerous or not. Desperate measures to counter disease.

‘The fact that no record of these trials can be found in the files relating to the Department of Local Government and Public Health, the Municipal Health Reports relating to Cork and Dublin, or the Wellcome Archives in London, suggests that vaccine trials would not have been acceptable to government, municipal authorities, or the general public.

‘However, the fact that reports of these trials were published in the most prestigious medical journals suggests that this type of human experimentation was largely accepted by medical practitioners and facilitated by authorities in charge of children’s residential institutions.’

Now there is going to be an investigation.

“This was Ireland of the (19)20s to the ’60s — an Ireland that might be portrayed as a glorious and brilliant past, but in its shadows contained all of these personal cases, where people felt ashamed, felt different, were suppressed, dominated,” he said. “And obviously the question of the treatment in the mother and babies homes is a central part of that.”

The inquiry will seek to determine what occurred, rather than try to apportion blame. It will look at the high mortality rates at the homes, the burial practices at these residences, illegal adoptions and whether vaccine trials were conducted on the children.

While this is a good thing I don’t see how it is a surprise to anyone. It’s a bit like wondering if there was slavery in the states and just how much by whom. These “ruinous” events were common. I come from an Irish background on my maternal side. When my great aunt had a child out of wedlock she was forced to live on the farm in shame and never married or had other children. When my aunt had a child out of wedlock, she too was shamed and marriage was forced and she never had another child. When my mother had a child out of wedlock she was told by her parents she could either go back to the farm and stay there forever or leave the country. She left for Switzerland and would have stayed there permanently if she could have but came back 12 years later. Though I was not a bastard child I was always considered different because my mother later married a Jew who left because his family would not tolerate his marrying a gentile.

Religion has been destroying families since its inception. Anyone of age or who has been paying the slightest attention knows how horrible women were treated generally and worse when they had children our of wedlock. The joke “shotgun” marriage is so common as to be a caricature of the disgrace and shame wrought to women who were at first told they couldn’t use birth control and then when they had children were shamed for life.

It’s easy to blame this on the harsh conditions of the world where they were born, somehow traveling like a defect, along genetic lines but it is cultural. The mideast has long had issues with climate and resource shortages. But in Ireland that was not the case. St Patrick’s day is celebrated because he brought Catholicism to England. Did these genes just pass along through the existing population? Was it really the Roman’s fault and then capitalized on by missionaries?

A patriarchal culture invested in misogyny exacerbated the geoeconomic conditions that left men unemployed, depressed, and drunk with women picking up the pieces. Rather than celebrating St Patrick either as veneration or an excuse to party he should be an example of the horrors wrought by missionaries. It would have been far better for the people of Ireland to never have seen a missionary with his platitudes of big families, women are servants, and god saves.

The potato famine wouldn’t have been such an issue if the land wasn’t already so overpopulated they desperately planted potatoes everywhere, abandoning grass farming with its lessor output. The land is best suited to grow grass not carbohydrate heavy crops. It was an ideology of breeding that set them up for failure..

robert carlsonThe second case is the statement by bishop Robert Carlson, previously of St Paul, that he wasn’t aware that it was illegal to sexually abuse children.

In a video released by the St. Paul law firm Jeff Anderson & Associates, the Catholic archbishop is asked whether he had known it was a crime for an adult to engage in sex with a child.

“I’m not sure whether I knew it was a crime or not,” Carlson responded. “I understand today it’s a crime.”

When asked when he first realized it was a crime for an adult — including priests — to have sex with a child, Carlson, 69, shook his head.

“I don’t remember,” he testified.

But he did know.

Yet according to documents released Monday by the law firm Jeff Anderson & Associates in St. Paul, Carlson showed clear knowledge that sexual abuse was a crime when discussing incidents with church officials during his time in Minnesota.

In a 1984 document, for example, Carlson wrote to the then archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis, John R. Roach, about one victim of sexual abuse and mentioned that the statute of limitations for filing a claim would not expire for more than two years. He also wrote that the parents of the victim were considering reporting the incident to the police.

Today still they cover their pernicious evils. Over and over again the church fights court orders to provide information and names showing they knew of abuse, they kept the abusers employed and their crimes hidden.

What the news of these investigation across the world does reveal is the Catholic church’s success in hiding their abuse of so many for so long that even after so many cases of pedophilia and abuse have been revealed people are sill surprised to learn more. It has never been just the priests and the boys, women have been treated much worse for much longer.

Catholicism wishes to bury the past so they do not continue to lose its members. Progressive Catholicism is praised but the church still silences those who disagree within the church.

But a recent incident illustrates that the institutional church doesn’t extend that same freedom of religious expression to the many of its followers who dissent from its official position on abortion. The National Catholic Reporter, which is by far the most liberal of the semi-official Catholic publications, refused an ad for my book, Good Catholics: The Battle over Abortion in the Catholic Church, which charts the clashes between pro-choice Catholics and the Catholic hierarchy over whether “good Catholics” can support abortion rights or vote for pro-choice politicians. A spokesperson said the publication couldn’t “respect arguments that try to say that abortion can be a good thing” and likened giving space to abortion dissenters to promoting polygamy.

I’m not sure the person delivering that message grasped the irony of censoring an ad about a book that’s largely about attempts to suppress abortion dissent. The episode is emblematic of how any discussion of abortion has been completely suppressed within the church — even to the point of trying to deny history. Legitimate questions about how to comport Catholic doctrine with competing demands for women’s autonomy and access to health care and the rights of others in pluralistic society have been reduced to aspersions that pro-choice Catholics think abortion is “a good thing.”

If the Catholic church provides moral direction they need a new compass.

Jim Newman, bright and well www.frontiersofreason.com