The Paradox of Tolerance: We Must be Intolerant of Intolerance

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It feels like many have forgotten one of the important the lessons of history. With the recent Charlottesville violence and the failure of the United States president to condemn white supremacists perhaps a reminder of one of the lessons came of out World War 2: tolerance needs to be limited to intolerance. We learned the hard way that sitting by and watching hate spiral out of control has disastrous consequences. Even before Britain and France declared war the Jewish in Germany suffered a downward spiral of hate and violence. It went, roughly, as follows:

  1. A powerful reminder of what happens when we tolerate intolerance.

    Rumours and conspiracies: When world War 1 was ending front-line German soldiers felt like they were winning. They were gaining ground and morale was high. When the treaty of Versailles came Germans were forced to stop fighting and give up some of the territory they had captured, they felt betrayed. The rumour circulated among front-line soldiers that it was a Jewish and communist conspiracy. They took their resentment of the Jewish and Communists home with them.

  2. Blame: A few coincidences such as a few of the leaders of the räterepublik being Jewish exasperated anti-Jewish hate in Germany.
  3. Generalized Bigotry: A steady increase in antisemitism started occurring in Germany and gave strong anti-Jewish political establishments like the Nazi’s a chance at election.
  4. Loss of homes and businesses: After the Nazis were elected in addition to the yellow badges of shame was the seizing of Jewish homes and businesses.
  5. Escalated Violence: As if losing everything and facing hatred wasn’t enough violent incidents such as the Kristallnacht (Night of the Long Knives) became acceptable in Germany.
  6. Segregation: Shortly before the establishment of concentration camps jewish Germans were all moved into fenced off neighborhoods and forced to fend for themselves where they either starved our sold off the last of their belongings for food through the fence. They also had no medicine and they suffered crime driven by desperation.

All of this was known in the free world at the time and we did nothing, we all know what happened next: Industrialized killing, torture, torment and all other kinds of suffering and misery of millions of people because of their religion. And of course the invasion of peaceful countries that lead to a world war that killed over 60 million.

After the war Karl Popper outlined The Paradox of Tolerance:

“Less well known is the paradox of tolerance: Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them…We should therefore claim, in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant.” Karl Popper

This is spot on correct, it’s only through zero tolerance that we defeat the ugly beast of intolerance. There is no question that a person or a group should be allowed freedom of speech and peaceful assembly, no matter how much we disagree with the ideas and opinions of that person or group.  A person or group must be allowed to hold an an ideology no matter what, even if it is as ignorant Nazism/White Supremacy. However these are only legal protections in a free society, not social. There is nothing to stop a person from speaking out against hate and we can certainly have nothing to do with them. Being intolerant of intolerance is really the only way of ensuring the hateful do not succeed. It’s not an easy process because human beings tend to categorize people, places and things to make thinking easier. The difference is racists and bigots don’t draw a line or understand that things like skin colour and religion are superficial reasons to judge a person.

This blog tries to stay away from politics but Trump not condemning the racists was, in this blog’s opinion, his biggest failure in leadership yet and  very damaging to anything a humanist (or any decent human being for that matter) stands for.

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A Printable Humanist Declaration Of Values

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This is a repost but given the change in the direction of the blog it seems appropriate. This is taken almost entirely from Paul Kurtz’ declaration he wrote for the Council For Secular Humanism many years ago. Seems prudent after so many years to re-examine it but for now here it is: the-affirmations-of-humanism and in Word format the-affirmations-of-humanism

 

This will be our ‘Values’ page as well.  

 

 

 

A Different Direction: The Alternative to Religion.

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When this blog was started 6 years ago we had a goal of ridding the world of religion, superstition, the pseudosciences and all the harms they cause. It has been our great pleasure to see atheism and humanism grow so much in popularity worldwide. The internet has been at the forefront of the battle against dogma and superstition. The internet has opened the floodgates of information to the world and the result has been a new enlightenment. Unbeliever’s such as myself no longer feel alone in their beliefs (or lack thereof). Atheist and humanist organizations, and chat rooms have popped up in droves, and even atheist churches exist now. These are things were virtually unheard of as little as ten years ago. A cultural shift is occurring and the diminishing of religion is certainly a part of that.

Some careful reflection of this cultural shift has lead to us to make a change in the content of this blog. We are still against the evils of religion and superstitions but we have to ask ourselves ‘Now that religion is being heavily criticized and that shows no signs of changing,  what now?’ Until human nature changes and we evolve past needing what religion offers for people then we must provide alternatives. Fortunately these alternatives exist and this blog will be primarily focusing on these alternatives going forward: Science, The Arts and Social Conscience.

Science:

The physical sciences help us fight disease and aging, protect our environment, and make our lives easier in immeasurable ways: from safer cars to the stain resistant clothing you may be wearing right now. The social sciences provide us with the means to improve our mental health, culture, economics and politics. The sciences are truly the key to our survival and our happiness.

The Arts:

Music, literature, film, painting, sculpture and other forms of artistic expression and entertainment move us in profound ways and are already providing hope and meaning to millions worldwide.

Social Conscience:

There is a great deal of happiness and satisfaction in the service of others. This can be something as simple as helping someone carry something to vast undertakings of selfless giving such philanthropy and social activism. There is a great deal of research to show that this in a natural part of our evolution.

We are still secular humanists and so will still be including the atheism and humanism pages and content will include these subjects. However, as part of our efforts to rid the world of dangerous, archaic beliefs we will be focusing on alternatives to religion. These alternatives are secular, deeply powerful and focus on what’s best for family, community and humanity as whole instead of how to please a God or Gods or those that proclaim to speak for them. We can live without religion and this blog hopes to show how that is possible.

Muslim leader calls for a boycott of coffee giant Starbucks over its support for gay marriage

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The prominent leader of a 30 million-strong Muslim group has called for a boycott of global coffee brand Starbucks because of its support for gay marriage.

Anwar Abbas of Muhammadiyah, the second-largest Islamic group in Indonesia, says the brand’s pro-gay stance is ruining southeast Asia’s “religious and cultured” core.
“If Starbucks only does business, then fine. But don’t bring ideology here,” (Courtesy of news.com.au)

Indonesia is a very traditional Muslim country and so homophobia is a big problem and so this is not surprising.  However considering how much Muslims push for political change in the western world that last line was so hypocritical I just had to share.

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.

 

 

 

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.