David Silverman Vs the Mob

In what is becoming something of a pattern, Buzzfeed goes after a leading atheist with various allegations, and people in the atheist/skeptic community are surprisingly unskeptical when it comes to certain claims. There’s a bit more meat on these bones though.

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Science & the Mass Extinction of Primitive Thought

2401285296_57f4963b2d_b.jpgPlants caused a mass extinction, but also the conditions that led to new forms of complex, energetic life – eventually human beings.

This happened because of a single radical change, the advent of photosynthesis. This swept away the overwhelming majority of other forms of life and was such a powerful change that it almost wiped out the organisms that stumbled across it.

Yet, coming out the other side, this was the great shift in biology that brought us to where we are now.

It’s no secret that I don’t like philosophy. It’s an improvement on religion, but it’s still – essentially – a blind groping after truth that falls victim to its own pedantry far more often than it produces anything useful or insightful. It seems scared of the prospect that we might be able to know something and is rife with internecine wars over terminology and meanings that – to an outsider – seem blindingly obvious (such as the Empiricism/Rationalism conflict, which is absurd, reason needs something to operate upon and confirm its hypotheses).

Still, after yet another argument over these points and the absurdity of metaphysics, I had something of an epiphany about just why science is so powerful and transformative. Why it has had the massively disruptive effect that it does and how this can be analogous to great biological shifts.

Consider this. Early life had no real way of reasoning or experimenting as we would think of it. We sometimes use these terms to describe evolution, but this is anthropomorphising it. Our language relates primarily to human activity, and so we have a tendency to humanise these forces. Still, evolution operates by blind chance, combined with selection.

A bacterium cannot consider the value of photosynthesis or strive to discover it, but variation and mutation down generations can modify and differentiate randomly and, eventually, a particular strain will ‘hit’ upon a successful change. Like developing the capacity to photosynthesise.

Before the capacity to think evolved this was the only way an organism could ‘reason’ or modify its behaviour. Via survival. This is – obviously – immensely wasteful, and this is akin to theology. The blind groping of faith, the superstition of the false positives – as we find with the ‘religious pigeons’ experiments. Perhaps, by chance, this would occasionally discover something useful or applicable, but more often than not it would not.

The capacity to think, to reason, exists at many different levels in the animal kingdom and so is hard to pinpoint, but we do know that animals besides humans are able to puzzle out their surroundings and solve problems, to a degree. Squirrels will negotiate assault courses and solve simple puzzles to get at nuts. Crows, dolphins, otters, apes and monkeys have been observed to use tools in their problem-solving. This has greatly increased their capacity to survive and deal with their surroundings and this is, perhaps, analogous to philosophy. It’s better than the massacre-dependent blind automata of semi-random evolution, but not by a great deal. It did provide the evolutionary impetus for the development of intelligence, however, and that gets us to humans.

One can argue over whether humans have a monopoly on what you might call ‘true intelligence’ but it is different to the problem solving we see in other animals. We are able to self-modify, to use technology and to think in the abstract in a way animals do not. We can take a solution to one problem, take it apart, reformulate it and apply it in other situation. We’re capable of storing, transmitting and teaching complex knowledge and this is revolutionary. In the analogy, this is like the advent of science and like humanity, science has become utterly dominant and has killed off a great deal of its opposition, a mass extinction of invalid modes of thought – like religion and philosophy.

Science has provided us a way of genuinely knowing what is true and extrapolating fundamentals and applications from that knowledge. This is dramatically better than anything else and the only way we really have of knowing that anything is real or true. It’s systemised, self-correcting, without hanging speculation, self-critical and – most importantly – it works.

Theism clings on, in volcanic pools, hydrothermal vents and the anaerobic depths of stygian sediment. Philosophy clings on because hitting a shell with a stone will sometimes get you a nut. Science, however, science is a quantum leap in knowledge, a way of testing and understanding any validity of any other claim and there is nothing else that does what it does.

Show us what’s actually true.

Perhaps that’s why philosophy and religion hate it so much and try to undermine it. They know they’re obsolete and marked for extinction.

Religion and Wars [WIP]

‘Uberfacts’ on Twitter quoted a somewhat dubious statistic that only 7% of wars have been religiously motivated throughout history and this has led many religious apologists to start crowing about a (somewhat strawman) of the atheist position that religion causes a lot of conflicts and deaths.

I believe the real point is that religion is a dangerous motivator for war and an extra source of conflict (over something that doesn’t even exist) and that it has led to or made worse some of the bloodiest conflicts in history.

Part of the problem hinges upon what you consider religion, and how much needs to be present for it to be causal. Is nationalism religious? I would consider it so, but I would consider most ideological extremism to share character with religion as well.

To take WWII and Nazi Germany as familiar examples, the belief in the Aryan race and its superiority was a supernaturalist belief and won that drove the nationalist and Germanic unification projects of the Reich as well as informing the Ahnerbe and their strange concepts around history, race and archeology. Anti-Semitism was also key to the Nazi ideology and also key to their blaming of the victors of WWI and the revenge philosophy behind that. Their Christianity alongside their superstitions and nationalism were also absolutely key to their opposition to ‘godless’ communism.

Combine all that and we can see that religion was a key motivation for the Nazis and integral to the war (not to mention the Holocaust), yet it is not commonly thought of as a religious war.

The book referenced apparently uses a 0-5 scale, with 0 being no religious involvement/motivation and 5 being an absolutely religious conflict. I’ve used the same.

I’ve sourced my list of conflicts from the link below.

I have selected the 20th century as it is the century with the least religious conflicts. If we include 21st century conflicts things will skew too heavily to making the atheist point, since so many current conflicts involve Islam. If we go much earlier than the 20th century we’ll also find a lot more religious motivations as well, as the world was a more religious place in that time.

If the least religious century (you could make an argument for the 19th whose conflicts were mostly nationalistic) turns out to have relgious involvement and motivation greater than 7%, then we can fairly safely consider the greater argument about religion not being a major factor in conflict debunked.

Source of Conflict List: http://www.war-memorial.net/wars_all.asp

So far I have processed the first 50 notable conflicts of the 20th century and have the following results:

Conflicts With Significant Religious Involvement (binary): 56%
Total Religious Motivation of All Conflicts: 25.6%

Frankly it seems unlikely that either of these measures could drop beneath 7% and so it may not be worth continuing.

252 total 20th Century Conflicts.
Sample size 50.
Error Margin: 12.43%

1. Sino Russian War
Religious Involvement relating to Boxer Rebellion which had a large component of religiously motivated violence. Scale? 2
2. Boxer Rebelion
Religious involvement in terms of anti-Christian sentiment Scale? 4.
3. Second Boer War
No real religious involvement. Scale? 0.
4. Phillipine Insurrection
No real religious involvement. Scale? 0.
5. War of a Thousand Days
No real religious involvement. Scale? 0.
6. Illinden Uprising
No real religious involvement. Scale? 0.
7. Angolan Uprisings
Religious involvement limited in degree (anti Christian, anti-colonial sentiment). Scale? 1.
8. Second Yemen Rebellion
Zaidi sectarianism key. Scale? 4.
9. Uruguay Civil War
No significant religious involvement. Scale? 0.
10. Southwest African Revolt
Religion involved in that priests were omitted from rebel attacks and that dominionism played a role in the colonial conflict and prejudice. Scale? 1.
11. Russo Japanese War.
No significant religious involvement. Scale? 0.
12. Maji Maji Revolt
Rebels claimed to use magic and set traditional beliefs against religious colonialism. Key motivator/exacerbation. Scale? 3.
13. Russian Revolution
Muslim group involvement and Tsarist strong belief in ‘Divine Right of Kings’ make religion significant if not a key driver. Scale? 2.
14. Third Central American War
No significant religious involvement. Scale? 0.
15. Zulu Rebellion.
No significant religious involvement. Scale? 0.
16. Mahdist Revolt
Religion absolutely key. Scale? 5.
17. Dutch-Achinese War
Jihad by Muslim forces against the Dutch making this explicitly a religious war. Scale? 5.
18. Fourth Central American War
No significant religious involvement. Scale? 0.
19. Romanian Peasant Revolt
Anti-Semitism involved. Scale? 1.
20. Morroco Unrest
Insufficient Information. Assumed non-religious. Scale? 0.
21. Iranian Constitution War
Shariah Law and sectarianism contributed to conflict and issues around the war. Scale? 2.
22. Korean Guerilla War
No significant religious involvement. Scale? 0.
23. Ma’Al’s Insurgency
Islam vs Christianity a key component. Scale? 4.
24. Portuguese War Against Dembos
Insufficient Information. Assumed non-religious. Scale? 0.
25. The Second Rif War
Islam a background motivator and source of confluct. Scale? 2.
26. Conquest of Widai
Islam vs Christianity an important element. Scale? 2.
27. Asir-Yemen Revolt
Sectarianism as background. Scale? 1.
28. Chinese Revolution
No significant religious involvement. Scale? 0.
29. The Negro Rebellion
No significant religious involvement. Scale? 0.
30. Sino-Tibetan War
No significant religious involvement. Scale? 0.
31. Italo-Turish War
Islam vs Christianity as background. Scale? 1.
32. Paraguay Coups
No significant religious involvement. Scale? 0.
33. First Balkan War
Revolt against Islamic (Ottoman) rule a key background component. Scale? 2.
34. Moro Rebellion
Islam a key component. Scale? 3.
35. Second Nationalist War
Conflict between traditionalist and Communist groups played a minor role. Scale? 1.
36. Second Balkan War
Revolt against Islamic (Ottoman) rule a key background component. Scale? 2.
37. Bai-Lang Rebellion
Religio-ethnic background to aspects of the conflict. Scale? 1.
38. Russo-Turkistan War
Insufficient information, presume religion not involved. Scale? 0.
39. World War I
In many ways the ‘last gasp’ of the Divine Right of Kings, key to the old monarchic order. Scale? 2.
40. Southern China Revolt
No significant religious involvement. Scale? 0.
41. Second Sino-Tibetan War
No significant religious involvement. Scale? 0.
42. Finnish Civil War
Christian traditionalist Vs Communism. Scale? 2.
43. Third Anglo-Afghan War
Religious background. Scale? 1.
44. Sparticist Uprising
Socialist/Communist uprising vs Conservative, Christian elements. Scale? 2.
45. Hungarian/Romanian War
Socialist/Communist uprising vs Conservative, Christian elements. Scale? 2.
46. Dervish State Vs Ethiopia
Sectarian Conflict. Scale? 3.
47. Mexican Revolution
No significant religious involvement. Scale? 0.
48. Caco Revolt
No significant religious involvement. Scale? 0.
49. Latvian Liberation
Included Communist vs Conservative/religious elements. Scale? 1.
50. Estonian Liberation War
Included Communist vs Conservative/religious elements. Scale? 1.

Working

1-1-2(5)
2-2-6(10)
3-2-6(15)
4-2-6(20)
5-2-6(25)
6-2-6(30)
7-3-7(35)
8-4-11(40)
9-4-11(45)
10-5-12(50)
11-5-12(55)
12-6-15(60)
13-7-17(65)
14-7-17(70)
15-7-17(75)
16-6-22(80)
17-7-27(85)
18-7-27(90)
19-8-28(95)
20-8-28(100)
21-9-30(105)
22-9-30(110)
23-10-34(115)
24-10-34(120)
25-11-36(125)
26-12-38(130)
27-13-39(135)
28-14-39(140)
29-14-39(145)
30-14-39(150)
31-15-40(155)
32-15-40(160)
33-16-42(165)
34-17-45(170)
35-18-46(175)
36-19-48(180)
37-20-49(185)
38-20-49(190)
39-21-52(195)
40-21-52(200)
41-21-52(205)
42-22-54(210)
43-23-55(215)
44-24-57(220)
45-25-59(225)
46-26-62(230)
47-26-62(235)
48-26-62(240)
49-27-63(245)
50-28-64(250)

Religious Involvement: 56%
Religious Motivation: 25.6%

#Atheism – Chapel Hill

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Deah Shaddy Barakat, Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha.

We don’t know that much about thee Chapel Hill shootings yet, partly because there seems to be little interest in the mainstream media in talking about the story at this point. What appears to have happened is that a man has shot three young Muslims dead in America. We don’t know his motivations etc yet, but he appears to have been an atheist and anti-theist and the speculation is that these are the reasons for the attacks.

As a member of the atheist community I apologise for this person, this killer and will be more vigilant in keeping watch on other members of the community latching onto atheism as a cover for racial or other hatreds.

That said, I think it’s important to draw a line between atheism and religion as motivation for doing bad things. Atheism is simply a lack of belief in god. That is simply all it is. It has no dogma, no book, no set of commands to kill the believers. It is not a religion, it has no canon. Basically there’s nothing in atheism to excuse or promote death or dehumanisation as there is in, say, the Bible or the Koran.

‘You’re as bad as us’ isn’t an argument that makes you look very good and honestly we’d have a lot of catching up to do, to be as bad as religions on the death stakes. We’ll see what happens as the story unfolds. That he attacked Muslims in a country replete with Christians may suggest that his attacks were’t anti-religious per-se, but that he had some problem with these three people in particular.

Religion is still a blight on the human race, but we win with logic, reason and evidence and in the field of ideas. Not with violence.

“With or without religion, you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.”
― Steven Weinberg

#Atheism – Why I Loathe Islam

Let me explain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up.
– Inigo Montoya

Time was, I would have told you that while Islam was a horrible, nasty, squalid little religion it wasn’t really that much of a threat to modern Enlightenment values or the west, but that Christianity was. In the triage of religions we needed to marginalise it seemed to me that Christianity had far more sway over public life than Islam did, what with Church schools, Creationist nonsense, evangelical scam artists and so on.

I’m not as sure as I once was.

In the wake of the Charlie Hebdo attacks I posted a bunch of the cartoons that were made in response with the tagline ‘Fuck Islam’. Impolitic, perhaps, but truthful.

The resistance to that simple, pained and understandable statement was incredible and not from the kinds of people you might expect to be against murderous religious nutcases enforcing censorship from the barrel of a gun, but from my fellow left-liberal types. All manner of apologia for the actions of the terrorists and ways to excuse Islam from the equation were presented, even a great deal of victim blaming as we’ve also seen in the mainstream media. The idea that somehow this reaction should be expected and normalised because they were being provocative.

Disgusting.

There’s a kind of paralysis that falls over my fellow lefties when you can be accused of a thought crime. Whether it’s ‘islamophobia’ (which is a dog whistle for ‘racist’) or accusations of ‘misogyny’ when you’re fighting against censorship and for ethical journalism in games media. There mere accusation is enough to taint any further discussion and it doesn’t seem to matter how wrong or ridiculous the accusation is, it has power.

Let’s get a couple of things out the way first:

  1. Islam is not a race. There are Muslims of pretty much any race you care to mention. This should be obvious enough that it doesn’t constantly need restating, yet here we are.
  2. Phobia’s are irrational. Islamophobia would be an irrational fear of Islam. Given the context of Shariah law, the links with terrorism and other barbarisms it could be argued that ‘phobia’ is an inappropriate suffix. Fear of Islam, given the content of the Koran and the state of Islamic nations would appear to be a perfectly rational response. Islamomisia, irrational hatred of Islam, would seem to be equally inapplicable in most circumstances. It’s going to be impossible to avoid Godwinning in this article, so let’s get it out of the way. You wouldn’t accuse a Jew in 1940s Poland of being ‘Naziphobic’, because their fear and hatred would be entirely justified because of the beliefs and actions of Nazis. So it goes.
  3. Islam isn’t like other religions. While there are commonalities, mostly between the Abrahamic faiths, Islam isn’t a personal religion that confines itself to faith, belief and personal conduct. It is a complete system for theocratic autocracy with a great deal to say about personal, professional, governmental and judicial conduct. It is as much, then, a political ideology as a faith and one that draws its authority from ‘god’. The ultimate autocratic dictatorship. It’s not some wishy-washy, half-hearted spirituality like the Church of England, it has very defined and delineated ideas – many of which are anti-human.
  4. Islam ≠ Muslim. There are many lovely Muslims but the fact of the matter is that you can only be a lovely person by being a bad Muslim. If you’re OK with people making fun of your prophet and your god you’re a god, chilled, laid back person, but you’re a bad Muslim because the Koran and Hadith and the example of Muhammed himself (Al-Nadr bin al-Harith, Uqba bin Abu Muayt, Asma bint Marwan to name but three)  tell you that you should kill people who do that. There are many great people who are Muslims, but they are great by virtue of being bad Muslims.
  5. Hating with Good Reason is not Bigotry. Merriam-Webster defines a bigot as ‘a person who strongly and unfairly dislikes other people, ideas, etc.’ The key here is ‘unfairly’, which shifts the question to asking whether it is fair to hate Islam or not. I would argue that it is.

I have read the Koran and many of the Hadith (all of the Sahih). I have engaged in very long arguments with Muslim apologists and creationists and have even had brushes with Islamic spokespeople like Anjem Choudary and Mo Ansar. I have devoted considerable time to trying to understand the faith and its adherents and have come to the inescapable conclusion that it is a primitive, violent and dangerous faith with no good prospects for reform.

But why?

  1. Extremism is Mainstream. When you say ‘religious extremism’ you might be thinking of something like the Westboro Baptist church. A couple of dozen loony-tunes existing at some far-flung edge of the religious spectrum. While Islam has those too, even mainstream, ‘moderate’ Islam is pretty damn extreme. Wanting to live according the Shariah, a set of hideously barbaric rules come up with in the 7th century here, today, in the modern era is mainstream for Muslims, but extreme to everyone else. 20-40% of UK Muslims polled want Sharia law brought in, and that poll is from 7 years ago, according to most analysts things have gotten worse. Another poll showed unanimous loathing for homosexuality amongst British Muslims, with a margin of error of 4%.
  2. The Koran is Unquestioned. A huge part of the problem we face with any religion that is based on a supposedly divinely inspired book is that it is simultaneously the ‘perfect word of god to be followed to the letter’ and riddled with contradictions and vague statements that can be interpreted as one sees fit. The Koran is no different on this score but, unlike Christianity, does not have a kinder/gentler second book that justifies ignoring most of the first for its followers.  When the book outright advocates death, torture, mutilation, wife-beating and all the other horrors we’re now all to familiar with its hard for anyone claiming the title Muslim to speak against it – or they’re an apostate and subject to imprisonment, shunning and/or death. This is only made worse by the Hadith which, generally speaking, prioritise and give license to the more violent and horrible passages.
  3. Muslims Weasel. Getting a straightforward condemnation of the actions of ‘extremists’ is very hard, excepting some of the more politically minded or already outcast Muslims (such as the Muslim Council of Britain or Majeed Nawaz). Why? Because the ‘extremists’ are drawing from the holy Koran, which is the infallible word of god, so to condemn or question the ‘extremists’ is to question god or the prophet. Things which aren’t allowed. It’s like getting blood from a stone to get a clean, clear, outright condemnation of terrorism, violence, intimidation, poor treatment of women or even, most telling of all, child rape. Why the last? Because of Mohammed’s marriage to Aisha. Admitting that it’s wrong to have sex with children would be condemning the prophet, so you can’t do it.
  4. Islam Appears to be Unique. Islam’s ability to create suicide bombers, to excuse and encourage the worst aspects of human behaviour wherever it is followed, to unleash real horrors upon innocent civilians and the militarise believers appears to be unique in its scope. Terrorists exist across all ideologies and faiths – yes, even Buddhism – but Islam is the grand-daddy of them all possibly because of the cult-like nature of it, its internal enforcement and the lack of access to alternative points of view in Islamic communities. Yes, the actions of The West and Economics play a role, but to ignore the role of religion is ignorant.
  5. Islam Makes People Stupid. Not the Muslims, but my fellow lefties. Islam terrifies many of them in its implications, but so does the idea of being ‘racist’, of not being completely accepting and open to other points of view – even if those points of view are wrong, stupid, violent and dangerous. Never mind that you would not the same reaction when criticising any other ideology. If one were to say one hated Stalinism, for example, because of its cult of personality, the gulags, the purges of the intellectuals, its insane ideas about agricultural policy and the genocide of the kulaks, you would not be accused of being racist and your points would be taken seriously. Say something similar about Islam however and people will lose their minds.
  6. Islam is Hugely Arrogant. According to Islam we’re all born Muslims. This is why they use the term ‘revert’ for converts to Islam, instead of converts. This would just be annoying were it not for the fact that apostates (those who leave the religion) are subject to death under the Koran. Handy, but hardly fair or respectful.
  7. It’s Just Horrible. Sexist, racism, advocating for slavery, rape and murder, mutilation and so many other horrors. Its beliefs helped end the Islamic Golden Age as they became more rigorously enforced, it’s viciously anti-semitic, anti-scientific, dogmatic, autocratic and domineering. It has no true ‘moderate’ centre as we would understand it. I don’t see how any moral being can excuse it.

Nothing is simple, there’s always other factors, but so long as we keep ignoring Islam’s dogma, hate fuelled passages and its affect on the world we’re not going to be able to find or work towards solutions that might help. Ideally the human species needs to divest itself of religion (and faith) altogether, but that’s an unrealistic goal. Islam, at the very least, needs a reformation or a new sect. One that is explicitly peaceful and distances itself from its own violent past, one where membership is not automatic and enforced under pain of death.

Charlie Hebdo’s approach, that so offended Muslims, was to treat Islam the same way it treated every other religion. With scorn and childish schoolboy insult. ‘You’re not special’ was the message and it’s one that needs to be seen more. Instead, increasingly, we get cowardice in the face of Islamist threats and news organisations bowing to their demands, even while those who share their professions lay dead in morgues for standing up for universal principles that make life better for everyone.

I don’t hate Islam through ignorance, racism, bigotry or prejudice. I hate Islam having studied it, having seen what it does and what it believes and having seen how its unreasonable threats and terrorist actions make coward and hypocrites of those who should be standing against it.

And now I’m going to try ignoring it, like Gamergate, because people can’t stop and think whether I have a point long enough to overcome their panic.

2015 can’t get any worse at least, right?

#JeSuisCharlie Ceci N’est pas un Bomb

charlie-hebdo

A paedophile, a murderer, an epileptic madman and the prophet of a major religion walk into a bar.

“Morning Mohammed,” says the barkeep.

Did you laugh, did you even smile? Then you’re marked for death, as I am for writing it, as anyone could be for drawing a stick figure and writing Mohammed beside it.

Cartoonists have been gunned down for standing up against the increasing censorship in our society. This makes me feel terrible and pathetic because I recently backed out of one the other important fights about free expression that are going on simply because I was told to by my friends. While others are standing up and being shot, taking on Islam’s hatred and arrogance, I am sitting down and stepping back from fighting the far less violent forces of ‘social justice’.

In the face of what we’re seeing now, that seems like it was a mistake, however good the reasons for doing so.

Still, it’s clear that even in the face of an atrocity like this, people are still unwilling to admit there are problems. Problems with censorship, problems with religion, problems with Islam in particular.

Here is an unreformed, barbaric religion whose followers, globally, support – in the majority – stonings, Sharia Law, the death penalty for ‘disrespecting the prophet’. Even in the UK alone, with its relatively progressive Muslim population, 40% are in favour of imposing Sharia Law, 20% had sympathy with the 7/7 bombers and some 78% thought mocking the prophet deserved prison with 12% agreeing that it should be punished with the death penalty.

Even today it is virtually impossible to get even moderate Muslims to condemn the killings. They simply, at best, stay silent.

Islamic sensitivity is far from our only issue though and perhaps those incapable of or unwilling to examine their own censorious issues and hypersensitivity are excusing Islam for more personal reasons. We’re not so immune to this creeping madness. One need only look to the Twitter Joke Trial, the recent arrest of the gentleman who made an off-colour joke about the Glasgow Truck Accident or Criado-Perez’ prosecution of her (predictably pathetic) trolls for ‘threats’ that were obviously spurious. One could also look to Gamergate and gasp at the sheer hypocrisy of those who ARE standing up for free expression against gun-toting Islamists but who didn’t dare to raise a peep against other – less violent – forms of censorship.

While they may not be shooting anyone, yet, is there really any difference between the claims that insult amounts to ‘real harm’ from the religious:

Because it is, and I pick my words carefully here Mr Choudary, ‘fucking insane’. You’ll note, also, how he uses the ways in which we have already chipped away at the edifice of free expression in his arguments:  

The answer is not to ban or prohibit Islam, or indeed any other form of expression, no matter who thinks it is hateful or dangerous (unless it can be show that it actually is). The answer is virtually always ‘more speech’.

  • Holocaust denier? Hit them with stats and mock them.
  • Anti-immigration racist? Show them the economic data, and mock them.
  • Climate change denier? Show them the data, then mock them mercilessly.

Anything and everything must be open to mockery and it is these same, vital, Enlightenment principles of free expression, satire and free society that also make us free to protest and expose the actions of our governments, which are sometimes blamed as being the ‘true reason’ behind these barbaric attacks upon artists, writers, comedians, film-makers and others.

Atheist Imprisoned for ‘Insanity’

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While atheists have plenty of issues all around the world, at least we don’t have to deal with this sort of problem any more.

In Nigeria, Mubarak Bala has been beaten, threatened, drugged and confined to a mental institution simply for being an atheist.

He lives in Kano in Nigeria‘s predominantly Muslim north. The state adopted sharia law in 2000 and has a strict Islamic police force called the Hisbah.

You can read a full run down of the issues at the following links:

While Change.org is essentially a meaningless online petition site, you can sign HERE.

You can email the Nigerian Ministry of Justice directly HERE.

International pressure and human rights pressure CAN make a difference here. Nigeria is an up-and-coming economic and social power in Africa and wants to be seen as a modern state. Mubarak’s situation runs counter to those wishes and so they should be vulnerable to pressure from groups like Amnesty. As a member of the Commonwealth they may also be susceptible to pressure from the British government. You can email the UK Foreign Office HERE.