Bill Hicks Was Ahead of His Time

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He was a hero of freethought long before many of us were. His Wikipedia page.

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The Vacancy of The Morality of Fear

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Everyday we try to be nice, we don’t steal or lie or hurt or make people feel bad, these moralities are common sense. We do this primarily because of our experiences (upbringing, education…etc.) and our conscience. Morality in a religious context is an issue complicated by fear and reward. Religions that use fear and reward to enforce morality lack integrity and the good feeling of moral behaviour based on compassion, love and intellect. Doing good is it’s own reward and science shows this:

    1. Lalin Anik, Lara B. Aknin. Michael I. Norton. Elizabeth W. Dun (45 sources)

      Conclusion: The evidence we reviewed is quite supportive: Happier people give more and giving makes people happier, such that happiness and giving may operate in a positive feedback loop (with happier people giving more, getting happier, and giving even more).

    2. Stephen G. Post (28 Sources)

      Conclusion: The principle has been scientifically established. The welfare of oneself (self-fulfillment) and of others (self-sacrifice) are
      inseparable and interrelated components of the healthy human personality in a healthy environment.

The evidence supports that doing good feels good what about motivation? Why is fear of God, hell..etc. an unhealthy motivation? Common sense tells us that fear creates undue anxiety and all its problems. Also using fear as a motivation is the way of bullies and dictators, it also creates resentment in the people being manipulated. Ultimately using fear as a tool enforce moral behavior is unhealthy and can lead to resentment, defiance and loss of control.

Research also shows that we shouldn’t need fear to enforce moral behaviour anyway. Moral Psychology has been separating ethical behaviour from emotion for decades. Empathy has also been shown to be a natural result of our evolution. While it is difficult and sometimes even impossible to separate emotion from decision making fear is most certainly the worst way to make a moral decision.

A question religious apologists often ask of unbelievers is “What is stopping you from murdering and raping and pillaging as much as you want?’ to which we ask ‘Are you saying that without God you would be doing those things?’  Humanists, atheists and other unbelievers believe that the primary motivator for moral behavior should be love itself when balanced with reason doing good deeds is its own reward (see above) and that can be achieved right here and now. It also takes courage to take responsibility for own actions (integrity).

When I’m raising my children, my job is to get my children to act in ways that are moral when there is no fear and no reward, but to do it for the sake of doing it. When you add everlasting life as the reward, and everlasting torment as the punishment, there can be no morality. We need to treat each other well because we love each other, and not for reward or punishment. – Penn Jillette

When one considers religions so often also use guilt as well as fear and that moral behaviour existed long before and despite religion then we see that religion’s grip on morality has been lost. Instead we suggest that we let our love and our rational faculties be the motivator. We can reap the rewards of being good right now knowing that we did it for the right reasons.

 

The Shame of Body Shaming

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As a humanist I can not imagine making someone feel badly,  especially for something like weight or height or some other result of their genes, their health and their circumstances but this is an all to common occurrence. In fact ‘fat’ has become a dehumanizing insult, ‘Fat’ is the new ‘ugly’. People in western cultures have a new and terrible way to drag other humans down: ridiculing and bullying based on their body. This is particularly nasty when one considers how many reasons a person may be overweight.

Body Type:

  1. Ectomorph:  Ectomorphs are skinny with a small frame, light build, small joints and lean muscle. Usually they have long thin limbs with stringy muscles, narrow shoulders with a fast metabolism making this body type the most resistant to weight gain.
  2. Mesomorph:Mesomorphs have a medium sized bone structure, athletic body, and they typically have a considerable amount of lean mass.
  3. Endomorph: Endomorphs have a larger bone structure with higher amounts of total body mass and fat mass, and this extra fat seems to resist most efforts to get rid of it. The endomorph body type is solid and generally soft, and gains fat very easily. Source and More Info

There are numerous other causes for a person to be overweight:

  • Energy imbalances can cause overweight and obesity. An energy imbalance means that your energy IN does not equal your energy OUT. (.I.E. lack of exercise).
  • Medical conditions: Some genetic syndromes and endocrine disorders can cause overweight or obesity.
  • Several genetic syndromes are associated with overweight and obesity, including the following.
    • Prader-Willi syndrome
    • Bardet-Biedl syndrome
    • Alström syndrome
    • Cohen syndrome
  • Endocrine disorders: Because the endocrine system produces hormones that help maintain energy balances in the body, the following endocrine disorders or tumors affecting the endocrine system can cause overweight and obesity:
    • Hypothyroidism. People with this condition have low levels of thyroid hormones. These low levels are associated with decreased metabolism and weight gain, even when food intake is reduced. People with hypothyroidism also produce less body heat, have a lower body temperature, and do not efficiently use stored fat for energy.
    • Cushing’s syndrome: People with this condition have high levels of glucocorticoids, such as cortisol, in the blood. High cortisol levels make the body feel like it is under chronic stress. As a result, people have an increase in appetite and the body will store more fat. Cushing’s syndrome may develop after taking certain medicines or because the body naturally makes too much cortisol.
  • Tumors. Some tumors, such as craneopharingioma, can cause severe obesity because the tumors develop near parts of the brain that control hunger.
  • Medicines: such as antipsychotics, antidepressants, antiepileptics, and antihyperglycemics can cause weight gain and lead to overweight and obesity. (source)

All of these are out of a person’s control and don’t take into account lifestyle, cultural upbringing and other life situations a person may be in that has lead them to be overweight. For example some people use food to cope with the bullying they are receiving to begin with.

“The next time you see a fat person, you don’t know whether that person has a medical condition that caused them to gain weight,” Thore added. “You don’t know their mother just died. You don’t know if they’re depressed or suicidal or if they just lost 100 pounds. You don’t know.” (source)

This short list should show why shaming someone for being overweight is so ignorant. The same rules apply to being underweight, tall, short or the multitude of other physical reasons people bully and torment other people for. The lack of empathy and understanding in body shaming is staggering. It can have disastrous consequences such as depression, social anxiety, low self worth,  Anthropophobia (fear of people) and other social phobias, eating disorders like bulimia and anorexia and suicide.

The problem is compounded by electronic communication and cyber-bullying which provides a bully with a virtual anonymity.

Also cultural glorification of unrealistic standards of beauty such as being skinny or big breasted for women or being muscular and have a a full head of hair for men. Beauty standards  very from culture to culture  as well.

In short regardless of what shape or condition a person’s body is in shaming a person for their body is uninformed and cruel. If anyone ever calls you fat in a disrespectful way you are well within your right to retort with an F-Word of your own.

 

 

 

Anti-jihadi advert preaching ‘love not terror’ goes viral in Middle East

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This is what is needed to stop terror in the name of Islam. There is some controversy because it uses victims of attacks and is a commercial for a telecom company however a cultural change, which videos like this help with,  is one of the key solutions to Islamic extremism.

What do you think?

 

And the FULL VIDEO

 

Muslim community worker ‘warned officers about Manchester bomber five years ago’

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According to Metro news a member of the Muslim community reported the Manchester bomber years ago and nothing was done, that’s because nothing could be done. While communication is certainly one of the key factors in solving the problem with radical Muslims reporting someone for odd behaviour isn’t. In a free country like the U.S. or the UK police usually can’t do anything until an actual crime is committed. The issue then becomes one of getting a person who is talking about hurting themselves or other people the professional care they need but unless a person has been declared incompetent they have to want help.

So while it is noble and responsible to report a potential problem to the professionals there isn’t much anyone can do directly. Until we are perfect beings there will always be violence and neglect that allows violence to happen.  Only due diligence from security and law enforcement professionals can help mitigate it, but we are not completely powerless.  The Global Economic Symposium generated a wonderful, intelligent list of solutions to terrorism in 2008:

  • In dealing with terrorism, place emphasis on the state´s capacity to protect the public, permit the exercise of its freedoms, and maintain public services.
  • If the government succeeds in protecting the public and maintaining public services, then publicize the impact of terrorist violence on innocent civilians, in order to weaken the legitimacy of terrorist groups. At the same time, avoid overreaction.
  • Avoid policies and pronouncements that feed grievance. In pluralistic societies, pursue policies that integrate immigrants, rather than just providing passive welfare support.
  • Initiate a regional security regime for all the states of the Gulf and the Levant, aimed at mutual diplomatic recognition, gradual withdrawal of foreign forces, and nuclear nonproliferation.
  • Govern through inclusive, legitimized political institutions, avoiding instrumental justification of violence.
  • Initiate a comprehensive international initiative to prevent weapons of mass destruction falling into terrorist hands.
  • Strengthen our ability to manage the financial risks of terrorism through a combination of public and private instruments: terrorism catastrophe bonds, mutual insurance pools, and government insurance support.

All of these are great ideas and should be implemented worldwide but they are lofty, and unrealistic at this point in human history. As individuals we can vote for leaders that support these kinds of initiatives and change will happen, even if slowly. On an interpersonal level encouraging those we are concerned with to seek professional help is our only real option. If bad things do happen then supporting the victims and maintaining our freedoms and our democracy guarantees we do not and will not let the bad guys win.

 

Isis-linked militants take priest and churchgoers hostage in Philippines, beheading civilians.

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Never thought I’d be capable of hating anything but Militant Islam has accomplished that. They have declared war on everything not Islam and there is no answer in sight.

Isis militants have previously beheaded Christians in gory propaganda videos filmed in Libya and elsewhere, and a Catholic church was previously targeted by supporters in France. (source)

Pat Condell’s wise word from a few years back. still applies:

He crosses the line a couple of times but his frustration is really representative of how a lot of people are feeling about Islamic militants and Islam in general even still. Attacks like the recent Manchester one is partly why this blog exists. There is something toxic in that and other religions and education is they key to changing that.

Canada’s transgender rights bill could become law before the Summer

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The government of Canada is moving to protect transgendered people by giving them human rights protections. This would seem to be a no-brainer but some naysayers have complained the bill is oppressive, forcing people to speak in a certain way and to use transgender neutral terms. Their thinly veiled discrimination is fooling no one. It’s like they haven’t read the bill:

the legislation does not apply to those who mistakenly use an incorrect gender, but noted that the human rights law would only kick in when someone intentionally and consistently uses an incorrect gender

So, in other words you have to be blatantly and repeatedly discriminatory. Opponents are saying it will compel them to speak a certain way but:

Senator Marc Gold, a constitutional law scholar, noted that the legislation does not apply to those who mistakenly use an incorrect gender, but noted that the human rights law would only kick in when someone intentionally and consistently uses an incorrect gender, regardless of the harm it may cause.

So again the only thing this law is force is basic human decency and respect. It is a shame we need laws to make this happen and opponents ought to be ashamed for making their bigotry apparent.  Thankfully common sense and human rights are still prevailing in Canada and so Kudos to Canada for setting the example yet again