Watch for the award-winning feminist filmmaker's new documentary

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

An Unprecedented Rally in Defense of Trans People in Philadelphia

I spent part of this afternoon at The Great Wall of Love, a peaceful mobilization called in response to the Westboro Baptist Church cult's plans to protest the LGBT-oriented Mazzoni Center clinic, and its transgender patients in particular. The purpose was not to confront WBC, but rather to shield patients from having to see or hear their hatred. To that end music and songs were played by the Philadelphia Freedom Band, including my friend Erin Worrell whom I hadn't seen in several months.

I especially liked the WBC parody signs with messages like "God Hates Single Ply," "God Hates the Schuylkill Expressway," and "Legalize Gay Marijuana."

As it was winding down, I heard an organizer call it the largest specifically pro-trans rally ever. Apparently no more than five cultists actually showed up and they only stayed for about five minutes, so that most of us never saw them.

Monday, July 25, 2016

NPR Does Another Totally Gender-Biased Story About Sexual Harassment

In the wake of Roger Ailes's dismissal from Fox (So-Called) News, NPR ran yet another interview that blithely assumes men can only be sexual victimizers and women only victims. I posted this comment:

Another thoroughly sexist story about sexual harassment. If you'd thought to check your assumptions, you might have discovered articles like "Male Rape in America" (, showing that women's capacity for sexual abuse is comparable to men's. Given this fact, what reason is there to believe West's claim that "when women are in power, this kind of thing will stop"? None whatever; more women in power would just mean a larger proportion of female abusers and a larger proportion of male victims.

Abuses of power aren't about gender; they're about power. If we want to eliminate sexual harassment, we have to end the class stratification that gives some people power over others.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Thom Hartmann, Retract Your Slander of Milo

On the 21 July edition of his RT show The Big Picture, Thom Hartmann insinuated that Breitbart commentator Milo Yiannopoulos had been engaging in racist and sexist harassment, yet totally failed to state any examples thereof, instead merely using his banning by Twitter to pivot into a more general discussion of Internet harassment. I've posted this comment in response:

In a possibly defamatory bait-and-switch, you led into the discussion of Internet harassment with a mention of Milo Yiannopoulos, yet never substantiated that reference with any evidence that he's harassed anyone. I don't follow his Twitter feed, so I wouldn't know if he's done so. What I do know is that he almost single-handedly scored an important victory for freedom of thought and expression by saving the latest project of Cassie Jaye, the award-winning feminist independent filmmaker. When she needed additional funds to complete it last year, she discovered that the progressive foundations who'd supported her work in the past were unwilling to provide any more support unless she gave up creative control -- a demand she'd never faced before. The evident reason was that, in the course of making The Red Pill, a documentary on the Men's Rights Movement, she'd found herself questioning some of her feminist convictions, and incorporated that into the film. This sign that it wouldn't be the one-sided hit piece her funders may have previously expected made them unwilling to leave her in charge.
Rather than give up her independence to an ideological litmus test, she decided to try and raise the rest of the needed funds through a Kickstarter campaign, which would guarantee supporters could have no influence over content. But it initially looked doubtful she could raise the necessary money in time -- until Yiannopoulos wrote a column about her plight. Then, overnight, a Kickstarter that was less than a third of the way to its goal was taken over the top, and then some, thanks to supporters of free speech who follow Milo and spread the word about this situation. For this reason alone, Milo deserves to be called a hero of free speech. You owe him an apology.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

I Give Another TV interview

I was just interviewed by Philadelphia's CBS3 for a story about why politicians don't do more outreach to nontheists, despite our being more numerous than any other specific faith group. She apparently was endeavoring to get views on this from nonbelievers of various political bents, as my name had been suggested by the Green Party. She said it would air at 11 tonight.

My previous TV interview was a few months ago, when I was one of those demonstrating in support of Apple in its dispute with the FBI in front of its Center City store.

Monday, July 04, 2016

Suicide Is Painless (Not)

An appallingly ignorant side comment by Marty Moss-Coane on today's Radio Times provoked this comment from me:

I was appalled by Marty's reference to suicide as a "narcissistic" act.

A narcissist is preoccupied by concern about how others see them; they insist that others view them favorably (or pretend to). By contrast, a person who commits suicide -- except in the rare cases where they can be seen as doing it for a larger purpose with which others will sympathize -- is someone enduring such unbearable pain that they no longer care how others see them; they care only about ending the pain, even at the cost of condemning themselves to be seen ever after as a "quitter," and an embarrassment to those close to them.

It was particularly shocking to hear Moss-Coane's ignorant remark so shortly after Robin Williams' tragic death by suicide, followed by the explanations authorities on the topic had to make in response to all the insensitive, angry comments about it on social media by people lacking any understanding of depression. Did she learn nothing from all that? Is she actually expressing anger at how suicide "embarrasses" the survivors -- and projecting *their* narcissism onto those who commit it?

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Identity in Conflict: What Omar Mateen May Have in Common with Geert Wilders

Pondering the increasingly paradoxical information coming out about the Orlando shooter reminded me of something I read a while back about Geert Wilders (which I unfortunately can't locate at the moment). This article had argued that the virulence of Wilders's anti-Muslim position arises from his having a divided identity resulting from his own immigrant background (his mother is Dutch Indonesian), resulting in insecurity about his own belonging in Dutch society.

Omar Mateen may have faced something similar, with even more of an element of double bind: encountering hostility from other Americans because of his Muslim-ness, and at the same time struggling with a sexual identity that he'd been taught to see as antithetical to his ethnic and religious heritage. The experience of Islamophobia might only have intensified his sense of guilt over his same-sex attractions, seeing these feelings as betrayals of an identity especially in need of defense.

I suspect he made no serious plans to evade police after committing his crime. His self-loathing was likely such that he felt he deserved to die anyway.

Friday, June 10, 2016

A Tip: Don't Get Your Health Advice the Same Place You Get Your Waffles

It's evidently too much to expect that someone as set in his ways as uncritically-thinking Joe Sbaraglia, who writes "The Waffleman" column for the Philadelphia Public Record, would mend his ways after a couple of nudges. I've previously written him a couple times when he repeated false rumors, especially ones of a medical nature, but he just keeps at it. This time I've directly written the editor:

Dear editor:

Please stop allowing Joe Sbaraglia to repeat unsubstantiated, and sometimes downright false, health claims in your newspaper.

In his latest column, he cites a long list of purported benefits of bananas, introducing them with the statement, "The following material comes from" It's dismaying that someone who presumably knows the purpose of that website -- to clear up which rumors are true and which aren't --  doesn't grasp that people who are capable of passing on information without fact-checking it first, will likewise fail to check whether the information actually comes from Snopes. It'd be easy enough for him to do so himself, yet he evidently doesn't, since many of the claims he repeated either are not to be found on that site, or are pronounced false there.

Such carelessness is perhaps harmless enough where so-called "fun facts" are concerned, but it's absolutely irresponsible to repeat, or to publish, false information about medicine and health.