Football National Anthem protests and Mohammed cartoon protests

Remember the Muslim riots over cartoons? Now, in the United States, we have had nothing quite this egregious. But the uproar over some football players not standing during the National Anthem strikes me as similar in a way: the players not standing for the National Anthem is not hurting anyone; it is not denying anyone medical treatment, taking money from anyone, physically harming anyone, etc. It is a symbolic action.

And cartoons don’t hurt anyone either. Of course, I am NOT comparing the reactions; no one has rioted over a player not standing.

Still..the reaction is CONFORM, DAMN YOU!

Yes, you see similar pressures in the left wing to conform to certain orthodoxies, though these tend to not be centered around symbols like a flag.


October 23, 2017 Posted by | free speech, politics, politics/social, social/political | , | Leave a comment

Banned in Pakistan!

Ok, only a page of my blog as banned in Pakistan:

and I am reasonably sure it is because of this cartoon:

Where this might appear to be comical (ironic: a backwards, 3’rd world nation banning something on the internet), this is what happens without free speech protections. And this is an excellent demonstration of a major problem with the Islamic republics.

Workout notes: easy 3 mile walk.

September 22, 2017 Posted by | free speech, politics, politics/social | Leave a comment

College these days

I haven’t seen much of what is being deseribed here and here at my university. I do think that there is a fine line between being responsive to student needs and holding students accountable for their learning. Learning isn’t passive and it involves the students working AND changing. And, students don’t know what is best for them, though they often think that they do.

It is just so easy to fool yourself into thinking that you know something that you don’t really know. And, yes, becoming educated often involves entertaining ideas that one does not like.

June 22, 2016 Posted by | education, free speech, Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

Day game and other topics….

Workout notes: later run (4 miles); untimed; saw some track athletes out there. Knee: moderately sore.
I went to an 11 AM game (I like summers) with Lynn; we caught up on things.

The Chiefs won 2-0 and played much better than last night.

Recent: I am usually surprised to see my face at the end of these 5K races. You can tell that I am putting forth effort; my times just make it appear that I am not trying at all.


Climate: Illinois was unusually cool in 2014; the rest of the world: not so much.

A worker is fired for having the “confederate flag” on this truck. Yes, this happened in Alabama which doesn’t have a lot of protection for workers; in the past someone was fired for having a Kerry bumper sticker. In some states, workers have political speech protection.

Politics: Sen. Lindsey Graham has fun with the fact that Donald Trump gave out his cell phone number.

Recent law enforcement fiasco A woman was pulled over for not signaling a lane change. She was just going to get a warning. But she got snippy with the law enforcement officer. It “shouldn’t” matter; being unpleasant to be around isn’t a crime. But it lead to her getting arrested, and later dying in jail. Here is a sharp CNN discussion (I agree with the female panel member) and here is a discussion on the legal aspects of the arrest.

July 22, 2015 Posted by | 2016, free speech, Friends, racism, running, social/political | , | Leave a comment

Free speech and social media: are we now overreacting to personal opinions?

I am wrestling with something that is happening.

Yes, I know: the legal doctrine of free speech means that the government can’t put you in jail for expressing an opinion. That does NOT legally protect you from an employer firing you.

But I still wonder: have we become so uptight about opinions that we are too quick to react when someone says something on social media?

We have a teacher being terminated because she said some, well, things that were viewed as racist by many (concerning the McKinney “pool party” incident).

If you are wondering why I didn’t just call these statement “racist”: well, I’ve heard that we need to have an “honest conversation on race” but we’ll never have that when someone’s honestly heart-felt “observations” are shouted down. Think about it: over the last few times you’ve seen riots or these types of incidents reported in the national media, who has been involved? So it might appear that black people cause a disproportionate amount of trouble, and such thoughts really can’t be honestly challenged if they aren’t being discussed openly and honestly.

I think that the idea is to make people less racist, not to drive such thoughts underground where they can’t be challenged in a relatively non-threatening way.

But yes, I can see the school district’s side on this case. I don’t know WHAT to think here.

You have the principal of a school being reassigned over his critique of the police officer’s actions (on a personal page). Where I disagree with the principal (and very strongly so), I think that this action is very heavy handed. Are we not allowed to express honest personal opinions about the events of the day? Or, do we have to run them through employer censors?

And yes, this goes “both ways”. Here, we have a fast food worker at a zoo being fired over a remark which included “rude-assed white people”. Come on; how does this affect her ability to make french fries? I think that a more appropriate measure would be to tell her to take it down and to be a bit more careful next time; firing was too harsh IMHO.

Personally, I think that we’ve become oversensitive.

June 12, 2015 Posted by | free speech, social/political | | Leave a comment

Science, religion, free speech and more….

Science and the public: I sometimes think that it is unfortunate that the untrained have access to science articles. 🙂

For example: some scientists published a study which looks at the mechanisms of some of the cold-causing viruses; in particular it was interested in why the virus reproduces better in slightly cooler temperatures (that one would would find in the human nasal cavity) than in warmer temperatures (the core of the body).

So…wait for it…out comes an article (or two, or three) that tells you that yes, not dressing warmly enough when you go outside on a cold day might give you a higher probability of catching a cold. To see a reasonable response to this new research, go here.

We are freezing! So much for “global warming”

Yes, 2014 was a cold year for Illinois, the 4’th coldest on record. And yes, I am cold right now.

Screen shot 2015-01-07 at 8.12.12 AM

But as far as the rest of the planet: not so much:

Screen shot 2015-01-07 at 8.14.20 AM

See what is going on? Look at that patch of deep blue/purple …right where I live.

History and Religion
Was there a “historical Jesus” or only the Jesus of religious myth? I am not qualified to weigh in on that question, though I am qualified to roll my eyes at all of the miracle/articles of faith stuff. But some scholars doubt that such a person even existed to begin with, and they have ample reason to do so.

Now it has been my “it makes sense to me” opinion, based on little more than popular works, that these tales were based on the life (lives?) of some “holy man” of the period, but that is just the conjecture of a reasonably well read amateur.

Now, as far as morals go: there is no evidence that being religious makes one more moral than not being religious. The data sure as heck doesn’t say that anyway. And when someone says “well, what is to stop me from raping, murdering and stealing if I don’t believe in God” I’d ask: “do you really want to do those things and feel that religion stops you? I have no urge to do those things, and the rates of these crimes are LOWER in less religious countries (and US states!) than in the more religious ones! Of course, there is the correlation between education and religious belief (a somewhat complicated one) which might explain some of the cause.

So, as the article I linked to points out that being religious doesn’t make you less moral either.

Now, as far as freedom of speech and religion There has been a horrific attack on the offices of a French satire magazine; several were killed. Witnesses say that the attackers were Muslim extremists, though I’d caution about jumping to a premature conclusion. I’d also caution about demonizing large groups of people based on the actions of a few.

Yes, I’ll say it: if you believe that your religion should be protected from public criticism or that you have the right/duty to physically attack others for doing so, then you do NOT belong in the United States.

January 7, 2015 Posted by | biology, free speech, religion, science, social/political | , , | Leave a comment

what liberals fight about

Yes, people commonly referred to as “liberals” (e. g. people inclined to vote Democrat) often fight with each other.

Here is one such divide: blue collar vs. white collar:

Yes, I drive a Prius. 🙂

Here are other places of conflict: we have the “free speech/free exchange of ideas” vs. “let’s protect the sensibilities of any oppressed group” debate. You see this in the “porn wars”; e. g. some feminists want porn to be outlawed because it “harms women”.

We have socially conservative “people of color” (e. g. Blacks and Hispanics) versus gays; for example, Black voters were a huge part of Proposition 8 passing in California.

Then, of course, there is the recent incident of a white lesbian couple suing a sperm bank because they weren’t given a white person’s sperm (as promised). Yes, they did NOT get what they contracted for. But they are also telling their kid that she is somehow…defective or inferior…not what they wanted. This opens a huge can of worms…what if, say, the sperm carried the DNA for some physically undesirable traits?

Then there is the recent dustup over Islam. Islam, as practiced by millions worldwide, is a classic, “patriarchy”, “governing from the top down”, “illiberal social ideas” religion. But to criticize this is to draw the wrath of well intentioned but logically challenged liberals. You see more discussion of this here.

Agonizingly, liberals grade on a very steep curve. Read what Nicholas Kristof says:

Third, the Islamic world contains multitudes: It is vast and varied. Yes, almost four out of five Afghans favor the death penalty for apostasy, but most Muslims say that that is nuts. In Indonesia, the most populous Muslim country in the world, only 16 percent of Muslims favor such a penalty. In Albania, Azerbaijan, and Kazakhstan, only 2 percent or fewer Muslims favor it, according to the Pew survey.

ONLY 16 PERCENT? ARE YOU F*CKING KIDDING ME??? Imagine if 16 percent of Christians in the US had such attitudes! Heck, “only” 2 percent? In the US, 2 percent is 6 million people, or perhaps 4 million if you only consider adults.


You produce a cleric that says that Sharia Law calls for the death penalty for apostasy. Some liberal says “other clerics disagree”. Yes, others might disagree, but the fact that someone can present this as if it is a mainstream position (even if it isn’t the only one) is very, very troubling.

Put it this way: the positions of the Westboro Baptist Church would be moderate by Muslim standards; after all, they aren’t calling for blasphemers to be put to death.

I didn’t intend to weigh as deeply into this debate as I did. But you see the fault lines: we have liberal ideals vs. multiculturalism. The very idea that some religious ideas OTHER THAN MAJORITY RELIGIOUS IDEAS are toxic is just too much for the mind for many liberals to comprehend.

Hey, a position is not automatically wrong just because Fox News takes it.

October 10, 2014 Posted by | free speech, religion, social/political | | Leave a comment

Liberals, atheists and George Will?

My goodness, Mr. Climate Change Denying George Will is an atheist? I suppose so.

Liberals Islam poses a challenge for liberals. Sam Harris explains. Basically, the tenants of Islam are highly illiberal and many of the Muslim theocracies are highly oppressive.

But I should be clear about a few things:

1. Saying that a religion contains a lot of noxious and bad ideas is a condemnation of those ideas and not of the people who might belong to a said religion. As Harris explains: condemning communism for being a very bad idea is NOT a condemnation of Chinese or Russian people.

2. Nothing in this criticism justifies denying Americans religious freedom; an American Muslim should have the same religious rights that, say, Christians, Jews and Hindus have. The same goes for places of worship. The same goes for world events; no US Muslim should have to apologize for, say, the Saudi terrorists who attacked us on 9-11. True, the 9-11 attackers were, in part, motivated by religion. But, abortion clinic bombers are also motivated by religion and I don’t expect Christians to apologize for them.

3. Still, huge numbers of Muslims around the world have some very backward, noxious ideas. To pretend otherwise is to be blatantly dishonest.

4. I am tempted to say that people like this do not belong in the United States.


But are these people really any worse than those who want, say, campus speech codes?

It pains me to say this, but at times, conservatives stick up for free speech better than liberals do. For more on the United States and free speech, go here.

Of course, there are plenty of Americans who, at the core, really don’t like free speech unless they agree with it; many are my relatives (I am sorry to say).

October 8, 2014 Posted by | atheism, free speech, religion, social/political | , , | Leave a comment

Right Wing Fantasies, Military, Amish, Football

Ok, what is that President Obama going to do NOW…something that takes away our freedoms? Well, look no further:

Can websites be forced to change to accommodate the disabled — by using “simpler language” to appeal to the “intellectually disabled,” or by making them accessible to the blind and deaf at considerable expense?


But now, the Obama administration appears to be planning to use the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to force many web sites to either accommodate the disabled, or shut down. Given the enormous cost of complying, many small web sites might well just go dark and shut down. The administration wants to treat web sites as “places of public accommodation“ subject to the ADA, even though they are not physical places. Courts used to reject this argument when it was made just by disabled plaintiffs, but now that the Justice Department is making it, too, some judges are beginning to buy it, opening the door to trial lawyers surfing the web and sending out extortionate demand letters to every small business whose web site is not accessible to the blind (or perhaps too hard to understand for the mentally-challenged).

As Atlas’s Alexander Cohen notes, “the Department of Justice may soon issue regulations on website accessibility. Jared Smith, an accessibility consultant, even urges businesses to use simple language for the intellectually disabled.” (Bye, bye, speech similar to Shakespeare or the Gettysburg Address, with their archaic or flowery language that violates supposed best practices about how to write.)

Hmmm, the last I checked bookstores still had quantum mechanics text books.

Us missile force
This isn’t good: some morale problems (“dead end for officers”) may have contributed to sloppy practices. We don’t need that.

Writing about what you don’t understand. Interesting: Rolling Stone talks about “rape in the military”. But they start with the case of a woman who clearly drove while intoxicated…evidently after having been drugged (by a drink) and raped. However the author of the article didn’t seem to get that driving while intoxicated is serious (and would lead to some severe punishments) and that toxicology reports showed no known date rape drugs in the system. They also don’t seem to get that people in the military (NOT necessarily the lady in question) will make stuff up to get out of things; hence investigators have to take a skeptical attitude toward charges that don’t have “in your face” evidence from the start.

The Learning Channel: I used to like The History Channel and TLC; now it mostly shows junk. Here is but one example. Note: yes, this is a Salon article and the title is misleading. The article is about the network making stuff up and NOT about it being bad to record someone leaving their religion and religious community.

NFL Ever wonder what happens to players a decade or so after they quit playing, when the body starts its “payback” from all of those injuries? Much to my astonishment, the NFL players union didn’t negotiate long term disability or long term (past 5 years) health insurance. Hence some of the guys end up in pretty bad shape and unable to find health insurance.

May 12, 2013 Posted by | civil liberties, football, free speech, NFL, social/political | , , | Leave a comment

Freedom to criticize religion (and atheists too)

Note: I am finishing this half-marathon race about 9 minutes “faster” than the winners of the Boston Marathon ran the whole thing. They are literally almost twice as fast as I am.


As far as I am concerned: laws that ban criticism of religion are backwards and barbaric:

A court here handed down a suspended 10-month prison term on Monday for Fazil Say, an internationally acclaimed Turkish pianist and composer convicted of insulting Islam and offending Muslims in postings on Twitter.

Mr. Say, 42, who has performed with major orchestras in places around the world, including New York, Berlin and Tokyo, said during earlier hearings that the accusations against him went “against universal human rights and laws.” The sentence was suspended for five years, meaning that the pianist will not be sent to prison unless he is convicted of new offenses within that period.

In recent years, many intellectuals, writers and artists have been prosecuted for statements about Islam and Turkish identity, both of which the pro-Islamic government seeks to shield from criticism. Social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter, however, have rarely figured in previous trials, although Turks are active users of the sites.

The messages cited in the indictment were Mr. Say’s personal remarks referring to a poem by a famous 11th-century Persian poet, Omar Khayyam, that poked fun at an Islamic vision of the afterlife. The poem was sent to Mr. Say from another user before he forwarded it.

In another personal Twitter post, he joked about the rapid call to prayer at a nearby mosque, questioning whether the muezzin who made the call wanted to get away quickly for a drink.

“Religion of Peace”? Sorry: but the behavior of the Islamic republics does Islam no favors. Note: Turkey is supposed to be a “moderate” country.
People who can’t accept freedom of speech do not belong in the United States.

Boston Marathon Bombing
I don’t know who did it or what group did it. I have my prejudices (re: mostly “homegrown” nutbags or criminals is my “out of thin air” guess) but we will have to let the police do their work. But of course, when stuff like this happens, the conspiracy kooks and the “the godless are responsible” kooks come out in the open.

April 16, 2013 Posted by | free speech, religion, running, social/political | , , , | Leave a comment