Gillard is against gay marriage

If it was ever true that anything followed from atheism, then it’s odd that there are a number of atheists like myself who favor equal treatment of gays, while at the same time there are other atheists who think just the opposite. The Prime Minister of Australia is one example.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard says she does not support legalising gay marriage in Australia.

Labor policy on gay marriage will remain the same under her prime ministership, Ms Gillard told Austereo show today.

“We believe the marriage act is appropriate in its current form, that is recognising that marriage is between a man and a woman, but we have as a government taken steps to equalise treatment for gay couples,” Ms Gillard said.

Asked if that was also her personal view, Ms Gillard said it was.

I suppose she did only say she was atheistic, not anti-theistic.

The 24 types of Libertarian

Go here for a readable version.

Via PZ.

Thought of the day

Jack gets it wrong again

In another bigoted tirade, Jack Hudson has said some genuinely stupid things. Specifically, he talks about the recent Supreme Court ruling against a bigoted Christian group.

It is notable that certain Christian beliefs would be contrary to the tenets of a gay advocacy group as well, and for such a group to exclude Christians who didn’t agree with the purpose would be exactly the same. Just as avowed Republicans could be excluded from a student Democrat group, or an avowed capitalist from the Young Communist League. Diversity on campus derives not from forcing every group to admit members who oppose the primary purpose of a group, but from allowing all sorts of groups to advocate on behalf of their own beliefs and interests. Forcing a Jewish organization to accept Neo-Nazi’s or a feminist group to be taken over by men is not to enhance ‘diversity’ but to subdue the messages and purposes of those groups. In the same way the policy of Hasting’s Law College abrogates the fundamental rights of CLS to express and advocate on behalf of a particular point of view – which incidentally is exactly the precedent held by previous Supreme Court rulings like Hurley v. Irish-American Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Group of Boston and Boy Scouts of America v. Dale. Both these decisions affirmed the right to association and its importance in preserving our 1st amendment rights.

This is all about making fine distinctions, something Jack and most Christians are unable to do, so I understand why he would make the mistakes he does.

This recent ruling was based upon Hasting Law school’s policy of non-discrimination. That policy said every group must allow everyone to join up if it wants funding and other school-based benefits. Jack points out that this could result in the message of any group being subdued by a bunch of individuals hostile to a particular group’s message joining up. This is true, it could. But that isn’t relevant. The Supreme Court wasn’t ruling on the effectiveness of Hasting Law’s policy, but whether it was constitutional or not.

Jack next points out that the school’s policy prevents the Christian group from expressing its views. This is blatantly false. The group can express its views all it wants, wherever it wants, for however long it wants. It just can’t get funding.

Finally, Jack points to two cases where the Supreme Court held that groups could exclude members who held contrary views. Again, with the lack of distinctions. Both of those cases dealt with private organizations. This recent case deals with forcing a public school to offer special treatment to a religious group. In other words, the conclusion of the first two cases is that the KKK can exclude black people all it wants. The conclusion of this recent case is that bigoted groups are allowed to organize, but a public institution is under no obligation to offer it funding or other benefits. But then people like Jack probably like the idea of funding bigoted, racist, or otherwise discriminatory groups because LIBERTY! LIBERTY! LIBERTY!


One characteristic of the show Cops is the use of footage showing dumb as dirt, inbred hicks contending with properly acting, professional officers. That probably reflects a good deal of what most police do, but it isn’t the whole story. Cops are people. They aren’t perfect.

That’s why I’m glad I was linked on Unknown News for my post about not talking to the police.

The whole page is just link after link of the negative stories about police – the ones you won’t hear on Cops. I like this. It isn’t that I’m glad someone is finally shitting on the police; that isn’t what makes this appealing (and shitting on the police isn’t remotely original). It’s that it recognizes this conscious campaign by channels like FOX and SpikeTV to portray the police as always getting the bad guy, always playing by the book. They’re human. I like to see when they get treated as such.

Defacing an atheist sign

An atheist group in North Carolina had a billboard which read “One Nation Indivisible”. Some meat heads decided to deface it.

Unknown vandals unhappy about atheists’ billboard in Charlotte, N.C., spray-painted “Under God” on the ad, the city’s atheist association discovered Monday. The defaced message will remain in place until after July 4, the group reports, which is the soonest that workers can furnish a fresh billboard image. Here’s how the vandalized billboard now looks:

Acts like this aren’t so uncommon. A few believers will get angry about being forced to actually think and use logic, get frustrated, and take out their aggression. And don’t they just always love to do it in a way that ignores the secular history of the United States?

The attacked group is taking this pretty well, I think.

“It was done by one or two people off on their own who decided their only recourse was vandalism rather than having a conversation,” Charlotte Atheists & Agnostics spokesman William Warren said. “It does show how needed our message is. As atheists, we want to let people know we exist and that there’s a community here.”

Society and the individual

I’ve pissed off feminists in my day. The reasons they give are going to revolve around me not understanding this or that, not automatically agreeing with them in the details, etc. (‘You don’t agree with me on this issue! Sexist!’ … ‘Why?’ … ‘Because!’) Basically, nothing specific.

But the problem isn’t some deep misogyny on my part. (Disagreement about what a picture of fat people means does not somehow magically equal hating women.) The problem, instead, is one of philosophical structure.

Feminism, as I’ve argued in the past, is a philosophy of consequence. It largely ignores intention, instead focusing upon the result of an action. It’s about as advanced as libertarianism. Of course, both philosophies have value, but when they’re promoted at the expense of everything else, they’re mere ideologies which inevitably lead to absurd conclusions. The same is true of all ethical and moral systems, including the ever-so-popular utilitarianism and egalitarianism (both of which I tend towards).

I got thinking about this because of a post by PZ on the lack of women in atheist and skeptic groups.

So I’m going to try something a little different. Instead of telling you my opinion, I’m going to forgo the essential principle of blogging (which is “Me! Me!”) and just ask people, especially women, to leave links to their godless/skeptical feminist blog or make suggestions or gripe or tell me what these stupid male-dominated conventions have to do to correct the imbalance…I shall be a passive receptacle for your ideas.

I do have to make one suggestion (the testosterone compels me) for something I’d really like to see happen…

Don’t mind his suggestion here (but at his site, he says a female-run conference on atheism/skepticism would be good). Take a look at the emphasis I’ve added. He says he is compelled, inherently, by the fact of being male. This is in line with a good bit of feminism, including the caricatures that haunt the Internet, but it’s a load of bull.

This idea that someone is compelled to do this or that may have a basis in sex, but philosophy is not the way to determine that. I want hard evidence. And, depending on just what is being discussed, there is plenty of evidence that men and women will tend towards certain behaviors because of their sex. Of course, that data often comes with the compounding factor of just what influence nurture has had, and the sociologists have a say there. But philosophy is not data. Logic can tell us nothing new; logic can only interpret the data we have.

What PZ does when he says it’s his maleness that makes him act one way or another is he devalues himself. (Hell, he even goes counter to all the feminist arguments that say the individual is responsible for rape/sexual abuse and ought not blame society – something with which I agree.) It’s a devaluing of the individual to place blame on some external source – especially without evidence. We may be able to blame an act of violence by a mentally ill person on his mental illness, but that principle does not extend to most people and most actions. It isn’t some external source that is to blame for individual actions among competent people 95% of the time. It’s the individual.

That said, there certainly is value to the arguments that say society is dominated by men and that that is an impediment to true equality between the sexes. Again, that doesn’t somehow magically mean a picture of two fat women is sexual objectification, but there are plenty of incidents where that domination is a serious problem, ones we gloss over on a daily basis. Watch just about any TV show. Women will be objectified and our culture allows it. That’s not a problem with the individual, but society. But it’s ridiculous, devaluing, and plainly wrong to claim that society is the whole problem.

The individual bears responsibility.

The Kennebec Journal takes a page from the Moritz playbook

Andreas Moritz changed a link once it was shown that he is only interested in swindling people. He did this to prevent anyone from seeing the details of his scam, but it didn’t work since he didn’t actually delete said details. And then I copy and pasted everything. Well, the Kennebec Journal, my local paper, may be doing something similar.

The paper isn’t running any major scam like Moritz, but it does seem to be acting just as dishonestly. I made a post about a stupendously bad article it ran that talked about ghost hunters in a central Maine town. It actually made the front page of the paper. Incredible, I know.

I had left a comment on the article saying just how bad it was, so I went back to check it. But wait. It isn’t there. In fact, I can’t seem to find it anywhere. Go ahead. Check the link that once worked. Search the website for “Readfield Historical Society” or “paranormal”. An older article will show up, but not this most recent one.

It’s possible the article is just somewhere really strange on the KJ’s site. If it is, that speaks to what an amateur operation this new ownership is running. But I can’t find it anywhere. It appears the KJ has deleted the article, hopefully out of embarrassment. I would like to think FTSOS was the embarrassing factor, but there’s no way to really know. Maybe a whole slew of comments after mine flooded the article, prompting a number of red faces in the tech and editing room.

One can hope.

Update: Since the creation of this post, the KJ has restored the link. Funny that.

Supreme Court ruling on Christian group

The Supreme Court has made one of its seemingly rare decisions that isn’t a load of crap.

The US Supreme Court on Monday ruled that a San Francisco law school did not violate the First Amendment when it refused official recognition of a Christian student group that restricted its membership to those who shared a belief that homosexuality is immoral.

In a 5-to-4 decision, the high court said the University of California’s Hastings College of Law was under no constitutional obligation to recognize the Christian Legal Society (CLS) as an official student group.

Basically, every student group at this law school had to comply with a non-discrimination policy in order to receive any activity funds or other benefits from being an organized group. But, being arrogantly religious, the CLS group thought it ought to be exempt from this policy. One reason was to prevent those icky gays from obtaining leadership roles. Another was the forced promotion of the sexually immature position of abstaining from sex until marriage (students who didn’t adhere to that position were excluded from certain rules, possibly membership). Clearly not the brightest group.

This is a no-brainer. If a group wants funds, it needs to follow the same rules as everyone else; no special rules for religion. Don’t want to be remotely fair to someone because you’re sexually immature? Fine and dandy. But no funds.

Other analysts praised the high court decision. “Religious discrimination is wrong, and a public school should be able to take steps to eradicate it,” said the Rev. Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

“Simply stated, the Christian Legal Society sought to ignore rules that every other group complied with,” he said. “The organization sought preferential treatment simply because it is religious. I am pleased that the court said no to that.”

The whole basis of the massive anti-science, anti-equality, anti-sexual maturity, anti-rationality, anti-common sense movement is the Christian religion. (Not that any religion is innocent in most of these matters.) Any steps which help to eradicate its corrosive ability is a good thing.

Australia is led by an atheist

Australia’s new Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, has confirmed she is an atheist.

This morning during a Melbourne radio interview, the new Prime Minister of Australia Julia Gillard was asked point blank:

“Do you believe in God?”

Her reply:

“No I don’t, John”

And if all the lies Christians loved to tell were true, Australia would quickly be led into genocide, eugenics, and all sorts of other nasty consequences. But atheism is not a philosophy. Nothing normative concludes from atheism. It’s a descriptive position. And Australia is a democracy, not a dictatorship. Gillard is going to be led by the politics of her party, her own ethical system (which I’ll hazard is somewhat libertarian, but maybe someone from Australia will read this and be more specific and/or accurate), and – thankfully – not religion. In other words, reality is firm in her mind.