Monday, April 30, 2012

Sam Harris...I Am Disappoint (UPDATED)

Sam Harris’s recent essay entitled In Defense of Profiling is a call to expand the tactic of profiling, specifically of Muslims at airports. He opens the first portion of his essay with a valid criticism of the current methodologies of the TSA and how inept, illogical and useless they are. I would also add dehumanizing, ineffective and another step towards a police state. There is nothing about this portion of his essay that I find incorrect, illogical or distasteful. He hits the nail on the head and could have gone further in showing how the TSA is a worthless government agency not because of their mission, but due to the haphazard and misplaced strategy and resources they expend. Unfortunately, everything that follows is where Mr. Harris lost me. In his next few paragraphs Harris sets up his thesis with seemingly valid points. He states:

“…the TSA has a finite amount of attention: Every moment spent frisking the Mormon Tabernacle Choir subtracts from the scrutiny paid to more likely threats. Who could fail to understand this?”

Ok. I may think that Mormonism is silly, but I have to agree that the probabilities are low that the Tabernacle Choir is going to stand up on a plane, yell “To Kolob!” as they blow up their magic underpants. I hate to say it, but this example and the “who could fail to understand this” plea seems like a sleight of hand on Harris’ part. He provides a clearly ridiculous example before his next in order to soften up the reader. 

"Imagine how fatuous it would be to fight a war against the IRA and yet refuse to profile the Irish? And yet this is how we seem to be fighting our war against Islamic terrorism.”

This example seems reasonable (more than the Mormon one) at first glance, but then if you consider this for a moment you see it does not make sense. In this scenario, we end up with the same problem we started with. A large group of people that are potential terrorists simply because of their birthright is still a large group and the TSA would still have to use the same tired and ineffective methods.  How do you weed that down? In this hypothetical situation, are we to screen James O’Donnell flying in from Belfast on a business trip to Boston? Well, he could be IRA. Maybe his mission is to raise money for the IRA from Irish Americans! Maybe…maybe…maybe. This seems stupid. It’s still a shot in the dark and you couldn’t possibly profile all the Irish coming through Belfast International, Dublin, Heathrow, JFK, LaGuardia, or Newark. And those are just the airports they are most likely to use.  

Then Harris drops his thesis.

“We should profile Muslims, or anyone who looks like he or she could conceivably be Muslim, and we should be honest about it.”

 So how does one profile Muslims without stepping precariously close to, if not crossing the line, of racial and discriminatory profiling? Are we going to profile white males from the Balkans? Will we profile black men from anywhere that doesn’t seem American? What about women? Are we profiling Muslim women now too? Burqa’s or hijab? Are we profiling anyone that “looks” Arab? What if she is a Lebanese Christian? The problem with this is that no matter the intent that less people be profiled (in order to not inconvenience American’s precious time) by targeting a group, it will be discriminatory. Also, it will inevitably drift back into what we have now. The pool of “suspects” is just too large while the actual criminals are such an infinitesimal fraction of that population that it seems stupid to profile at all.

This is not political correctness speaking. I gave that up. My opinion on this matter is solely from the point of view of the effectiveness of anti-terrorism strategies and the preservation of civil liberties; for everyone. Profiling may be logical in some sense, but it is probably racist depending on the target group and it is always discriminatory. Additionally, if atheists are going to have a claim on rationalism; we cannot use the line that people, by and large, are merely born into their religion and then not recognize that fact in other situations. People are born into Islam. You can make the argument that Islam primes people for violence all you want, but the fact of the matter is the number of Jihadist Muslims is not only low, but they are extraordinary low. The incidence of terroristic actions in the name of Islam is pitifully low if you consider the world population of Muslims. The numbers of terrorists is nowhere near the numbers that some would have you believe or that can be inferred from TSA resources. If it were then we would have vastly different and much more severe problems. This is not the case. This is why profiling, from a tactical point of view, is still worthless. It will always be looking for a needle in a haystack and the people looking for that needle are expensive.

We should be relying on detective work, non-intrusive technology and intelligence, not to mention halting activities that would seem to confirm the worst about American imperialism and fear of the “other.” Has TSA profiling stopped a single attempted act of terrorism? Not one known incident. As far as I can recall, all publicized cases where a terrorist was thwarted were due to inter-agency detective work and not a TSA agent pulling someone out of a line in an airport.

“He that would make his own liberty secure, must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty, he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself.”
                                                                                                           --Thomas Paine

UPDATE: Sam Harris responded to his critics over his Defense of Profiling article with an addendum to his original post (same link as above) on May 1st. First, let me say that I do not think that Harris is a racist or ignorant or anything of the negative things he listed in his response. I was not and am not offended. Also, I am not a “former fan” just because I disagreed with him (not that he would care! Steve who, from Left what?).  Honestly I think he over thought his position to a logical extreme. Logical extremes can and do exist. They might even be successful but they must be balanced by other considerations; in this case civil liberties and non-discrimination.

In his response, Harris stated that “suicidal terrorism is overwhelmingly a Muslim phenomenon. If you grant this, it follows that applying equal scrutiny to Mennonites would be a dangerous waste of time.”

Again that may be true, but suicidal terrorism is a relatively low occurrence in the 1.6 billion strong Muslim population (~20% of world). So we are to turn a suspicious eye to all Muslims? My problem with this premise, aside from infringing rights, is that it is unreasonable!

Further, Harris takes the easy way out and doesn’t actually defend his article. He just blames it on silly political correctness. That may be some people’s reasoning for rejecting his premise, but I would be hard pressed to think that many of the atheists that rejected his premise really fall into the PC trap especially in regards to Islam. Sorry Sam, it is not always effective to punt.   

Harris responds with two counter-points for his critics. First, regarding racism he was not suggesting that only dark-skinned “Muslim-y” looking people be profiled. Ok, fine fair enough. I am sure many people thought that is what you meant when some people’s PC meter kicked in. I didn’t think that. I brought up the factor of race/outward appearance just as an example of how do you implement profiling of a certain type of person without relying on appearance and without being discriminatory? I’m honestly unsure how that would occur.  Second, Harris states that there is no difference between his defense of profiling and other preventative measures to thwart terrorism. Sam gets snippy with the end of this second point. He states:

“And if we can catch terrorists before they reach the airport, I am all for it. But the methods we use to do this tend to be even more focused and invasive (and, therefore, offensive) than profiling done by the TSA. Many readers who were horrified by my article seem to believe that there is nothing wrong with “gathering intelligence.” One wonders just how they think that is done.”

We don’t really have to wonder. If done correctly there is no discord between preservation of civil liberties and effective intelligence and investigative work. These methods are a targeted focus of law enforcement’s attention. Not a broad swath such as profiling.

All in all I still like Harris, but this whole thing bothers me just because of his reaction to it. We are all human and no one likes being called out, but he put it out there. I don’t think he adequately defended his point. I still have the same overarching question about profiling. Has it ever worked?

Friday, April 27, 2012

Random Quotes: Religious Set Aside Their Differences…for Hate

The Catholic Church is increasingly getting desperate and exposing the true nature of religious discrimination. The highest ranking Catholic emissaries in the United Kingdom are attempting to form an alliance of Catholics, Anglicans, other Christian denominations, Jews, Muslims and Sikhs;, in order to enforce their various religion’s hateful doctrine. Isn't inter-faith work fun!

Via The Telegraph - Gay marriage: Pope representatives calls for Catholic alliance with Muslim and Jewish groups
“I wonder if we shouldn’t ask for and look for more support among other Christian confessions and indeed, persons of other faiths,” --Archbishop Mennini
“It seems to me that, concerning the institution of marriage, and indeed the sanctity of human life, we have much in common with the position of the Jewish community, the Chief Rabbi and many of the more significant representatives of Islam.” --Archbishop Mennini
“We will work with anyone who agrees with us that to redefine marriage is not a good thing for society and will lead to more confusion.” --Archbishop Peter Smith
Lord Singh, of the Network of Sikh Organisations, stated that marriage equality is “a sideways assault on religion.” Yes. The world revolves around your religions and everything that doesn't conform to them is attacking you. When will duelists ever learn?

I have to say that I am always suspicious when the disparate religions get together and defend each other. It's almost as if—deep down—they all know its bullshit, but feel the need to circle the wagons.

In any event, how can we be expected to be tolerant of religions that preach intolerance?

Meanwhile the Flying Spaghetti Monster has demanded that everyone be treated equal
and to generally try and not be dicks to each other. 

Friday Link Dump ~ 4/27/12

Virginia 'conscience clause' allows discrimination in adoption They meant to call it the Homeless Children are Safer on the Streets than with Loving Gay Families Clause.”  Can we agree to stop calling bigoted, prejudicial groups, movements, and legislations by these saccharine euphemistic names?  I propose that we make the following changes:  NOM: National Organization of Criminalizing and Alienating Gay Marriage, Family Research Council: Erroneous Heavily Biased “Research” for Straight, White and Frightened Christians.  WBC: Westboro Baptist Church (what?)  I think in the long run it would help them recruit the true believers without those awkward  moments when kind, socially conscious individuals joining groups with the word “family” in the title only to find out that they just joined a hate group whose definition of family is the repressed iconic 1950’s nuclear family that never really existed.

The Burden of Proof

Vast Structure of Satellite Galaxies & Star Clusters Discovered Surrounding Milky Way --Nixes the Existence of Dark Matter in Universe Science wins precisely because you can say “New evidence calls previously held beliefs into question!” and the immediate reaction is curiosity and skepticism rather than anger and outrage.

Obama and Fallon Slow Jammed the News Can you get political points for cool?  I don’t care that it was a strategic political message aimed at a specific demographic.  He was still on stage with THE ROOTS.

Thinking in a Foreign Language Makes Decisions More Rational Unless you’re a bible translator.

Lawrence Krauss: another physicist with an anti-philosophy complex

Has Physics Made Philosophy and Religion Obsolete?

White House Should Focus on the Constitution, Not the Bible Revolutionary idea, yes?

The first 4,000,000 digits of Pi, visualized in a single image

Nothin’ to Explain – Victor Stenger is one of the select few reasons to read HuffPo.

How much does google know about me?  This is bigger than your porn habits people.  Beware.  

What Particle are you? Caffeine and snark of course.

American Nuns vs. the Vatican Patriarchy Clearly this is an institution that is sick, archaic, unable and unwilling to adapt.”

Breaking: Private company does indeed plan to mine asteroids... and I think they can do it Well, if we “can’t afford NASA” I guess I’ll take it.

Herd Thinking

For Most Of Human History, Being An Omnivore Was No Dilemma In Pennsylvania, it is still legal to use trans fat in your food.  Personally, I think it’s a nefarious plot by New York to take over as soon as we are too fat to put up a fight.

Random Quotes of Pat Robertson's Tired & Confusing Opinion of Science

Knowledge, Belief & Faith

‘Spectrum of Theistic Probability’ Survey  Tell us.  Where do you fall on the Dawkins Scale?

Through These Godless Eyes

What Doesn’t Kill You The psychology of luck.

Why Do They Hate Us? How much does Saudi Arabia hate women? So much so that 15 girls died in a school fire in Mecca in 2002, after "morality police" barred them from fleeing the burning building -- and kept firefighters from rescuing them -- because the girls were not wearing headscarves and cloaks required in public. And nothing happened.”

No 'God Spot' In Brain?

For a dentist, the narwhal’s smile is a mystery of evolution

Thou shalt not commit logical fallacies Awesome site.  They even have posters.

The Great Accomplishments Of Faith

Dawkins' letter to his daughter

Invisible Borders That Define American Culture

Catholic Priest Tries to Use Pascal’s Wager in an Online Debate; An Atheist Politely Destroys Him This is a bit dry, but at least the atheist wasn’t “shrill”, or “strident.”  I hate that.

Announcing the Foundation Beyond Belief International Team

Zoom Out, and You'll See People Are Improving  Cheer up, the people around you are not getting dumber as you may have thought.  We’re all getting smarter.  You are probably just getting smarter before everyone else.  

Modular gene networks as agents of evolutionary novelty  Can I just say that I really like it when PZ talks about science?

Beautiful Minds: Richard Dawkins

Norwegians sing to annoy mass killer “During his trial for the killings of 77 people last summer, Breivik cited the song as an example of Marxist influence on Norwegian culture

Analytic thinking can decrease religious belief, research shows

Pictures: Huge "Snowballs" Seen Piercing Saturn's Outer Ring

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Random Quotes of Pat Robertson's Tired & Confusing Opinion of Science

“God created the world; the laws of nature were created by God. True science tries to find out what God put in the world. The trouble is where scientists speculate about theology and they don’t know what they’re talking about because they weren’t there. They can’t speculate about the origins of life because they weren’t there. If they tell you observable phenomenon then we ought to believe them, and I tell you if you find a geologist who tells you something existed 300 million years ago then you better believe them because he knows what he’s talking about. So we don’t want wanna have our religious theory go with flat earth.”

Hmm. Where to begin? This is so stupid I don’t know why I bother. I guess because we keep hearing piss-poor comments and “arguments” like this.
God created the world; the laws of nature were created by God.”
Begging the Question.
"True science tries to find out what God put in the world.”
“True science” cares not for your god or religion. It operates and works just fine without it. In fact—to date—not a single shred of evidence of a supernatural component to the universe has been provided for evaluation or discovered.
"The trouble is where scientists speculate about theology and they don’t know what they’re talking about because they weren’t there. They can’t speculate about the origins of life because they weren’t there.
a) Scientists do not speculate about theology. Theology is the logical study and philosophy of a completely unsupported premise. Scientists can test the claims of theology and they have. Again, not a single assertion based on faith has ever been confirmed,

 b) Conversely, scientists can and do speculate about the origins of life because we have a valid framework within biology to make educated speculations, hypothesis, models, theories, etc. All theists have is an outdated book which is incongruent on every claim about the nature of the universe,

c) One can’t make any claim to knowledge if “they weren’t there?” Tell me Pat and every other Christian in the world that holds this belief: Did you see an empty tomb?
“If they tell you observable phenomenon then we ought to believe them, and I tell you if you find a geologist who tells you something existed 300 million years ago then you better believe them because he knows what he’s talking about.”
 Wait…I thought just he said…
 “…We don’t want wanna have our religious theory go with flat earth.” 
 Too late.

Knowledge, Belief & Faith

Knowledge and faith are two disparate modes of accepting a claim. No one can claim to know that a god exists and, when questioned, simply state that this knowledge of god is based on faith. This cannot be. Faith cannot be a foundation of knowledge. It is a foundation of belief. By definition, religious faith must be an unsupported basis of belief otherwise it would not require faith to believe it.

This leaves no room for a believer to make adequate claims of knowledge of god(s) or objective truth(s).

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

‘Spectrum of Theistic Probability’ Survey

If you are unfamiliar with the ‘Spectrum of Theistic Probability’ it was popularized by Richard Dawkins in the bestselling book The God Delusion.  It really is a useful measure of one’s belief and some people, regardless of what they do or do not believe, may think a little harder or differently about what they believe if they ponder these categories. 

The categories and quotes are taken directly from Dawkins book. Please read through and consider your answer carefully. If you would like to discuss your reasoning please do in the comments of the post or within the survey if you would like to keep it private. Thank you. 

Through These Godless Eyes

via philhellenes

Monday, April 23, 2012

American Nuns vs. the Vatican Patriarchy

A report from the Vatican accuses a group of American Catholic nuns called the Leadership Conference of Women Religious of having "a prevalence of certain radical feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith,” due to stances of political, civil rights, and religious views that are contrary to Church doctrine. What are these heresies the nuns are committing? Open requests to the Pope (JPII) to allow women to be ordained, ministering to homosexuals, and not being aggressively “Catholic” enough on issues such as abortion, right to life, and health care. The report states that the nuns’ calls for women in the priesthood and other challenges to Church structure are an affront and "Some commentaries on 'patriarchy' distort the way in which Jesus has structured sacramental life in the church.”

Reuters reports that Sister Joan Chittister said: 
“the nuns saw themselves as helping, not hurting, the church. Their difficult questions must be asked, she said, if the church is to remain vibrant, relevant and respected. ‘When you begin to suppress that, it's immoral,’ Chittister said. ‘It's a mistake for the church. And it's despair for its people.’ The nuns' motto, declared on their website: ‘We risk being agents of change within church and society.’" 
Sister Simone Campbell suggested that there was a link between their support of “Obamacare” and the Vatican’s crackdown: 
"I can only infer that there was strong feeling about the health care position that we had taken," Campbell said. "Our position on health care was application of the one faith to a political document that we read differently than the bishops." 
Embedded in all this, the Vatican makes the egregious claim that Roman Catholic Bishops “are the church's authentic teachers of faith and morals," which basically is telling the nuns that the Y chromosome allows the Bishops to tell “Little Women” what to do. Besides the blatant and unapologetic sexism of the Church patriarchy we also have to consider how insanely self-righteous these criminals are. This statement that they are “authentic teachers of faith and morals” blows my mind! A short list of Vatican immorality and crimes from Atheist Revolution outlines the insanity of such a statement:

Clearly this is an institution that is sick, archaic, unable and unwilling to adapt. As Annie Laurie Gaylor requested of Catholics a month or so ago, Catholics should leave the Church; “en Mass.” This should include the nuns. Their motto “We risk being agents of change within church and society,” is admirable, but ultimately futile. The Vatican will never allow the kind of change they are advocating. They can’t even be trusted to act morally when it comes to the innumerable cases of child rape by priests. They have consistently acted immorally to preserve the status quo for the good of the order. And the crimes just keep happening.

I echo Ms. Gaylor’s request to Catholics: please leave. Most Catholics are good people that barely acknowledge Vatican doctrine anyway. Your support only enables and emboldens them. Change, in this instance, cannot come from within. It can only occur if you take their power away and their power is you and your loyalty.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Dr. Peter Boghossian - Jesus, the Easter Bunny, and other Delusions: Just Say No!

Floyd's Law

The inspiration for this can be found in this post.

Friday Link Dump 4/20/12

Day of Silence “Sure, other kids might be getting picked on for their clothes or wearing glasses, but the hate and vitriol to a minority group is more of a constant barrage and on a fundamentally different personal level. It’s not that their clothes or glasses are perceived as wrong...”they” are perceived as wrong.”

Firefly & the Firewall of Faith “How does faith "operate" differently to ensure a correct belief?”

A little meme I whipped up for Hitchens’ birthday last Friday night.

Boy Scout leader has membership revoked due to sexual orientation Removed for being straight? Oh wait, no that wouldn't make sense either.

Tandem Quotes: Anders Breivik & Glenn Beck These a-holes think alike.

Life After the Westboro Baptist Church An excellent article by Nate Phelps.

Random Quotes of Lies & Hubris: Tony Perkins

Sunday Sacrilege: Sacking the City of God PZ Myers’ speech from the Global Atheist Convention in Melbourne, Australia. It is great, but I am really irritated by it because I have half of a freakin’ essay written based on a thesis that sounds nearly identical to this: “The only process of evolution endorsed by any of these religious institutions is of god-guided, directed, teleological change, a mechanism completely unsupported by any evidence, in direct contradiction to known processes, and propped up only by an irrational need to make their holy dogma relevant to human origins.

They’re all intelligent design creationists, in other words, and they’re all wrong.”

Damn it!

Tribute to Christopher Hitchens - 2012 Global Atheist Convention

Obama and the failed war on drugs I disagree with President Obama on a lot of things. I’m not saying this is the worst, but this is the most surprising and perplexing. 

God Particle Discovered This may be my favorite thing Andy at Laughing Purgatory has ever written. Brilliant satire.

Why More Nonbelievers Are Openly Identifying “What nonbelievers are increasingly discovering, however, is that their reluctance to openly identify as secular only plays into the hand of the religious right. By not standing openly as nonbelievers, via the identity of atheist, agnostic, humanist, skeptic, freethinker, or some other identifier that clearly places them outside the umbrella of believers, they are creating the appearance of unanimity on the question of theism: Of course, everyone believes in God, right?”

EXCLUSIVE: ATHEIST MOVEMENT‘S ’GEORGE SOROS‘ SAYS BIBLE HAS ’MORAL’ & ‘FACTUAL’ FLAWS; TOUTS HIS VISION FOR SECULARISM This article is from Glenn Beck’s website “The Blaze.” It is a surprisingly fair and....not....crazy interview. Although I have to laugh at the headline.

Noodles in the Sand

Submit a Nomination for the 2012 President's Citizens Medal PZ Myers, JT Eberhard and Matt Dillahunty have all suggested Jessica Ahlquist. LET’S DO THIS!

An Invocation for Beginnings I have watched this so many times. I just think it’s brilliant.

Girls going wild in red light district This isn’t what you think it is. Watch it. all the way until the end. Then share.

Catholic League ‘Thought Experiment’ On ‘Weeding Out’ Unborn Gay Babies This man...*seethes*...I need to move on...

Tea Party Speaker Reportedly Tells LGBT Protesters: 'We Will Not Be Silenced By F*ggots' Not even remotely surprised.

The Anti-Vaccine Debate: When False Beliefs Risk Public Health “The fun ends when believing nonfactual and unscientific information drives people to make decisions that put a considerable number of others at risk. This is exactly what is happening with vaccines today as some parents choose not to vaccinate their children due to a belief that vaccines cause autism and other health problems, a belief that cuts against the conclusions of the scientific and medical communities.”

Vatican nun crackdown hits US group for 'radical feminist' ideas Jack sent this to me and said: “If there's one thing the [Roman Catholic Church] can't stand it's a group of women thinking for themselves without a man around to make sure they're doing it right ... apparently.”

Catholic Priest Receives Standing Ovation For Shunning Anti-Marriage Equality Petition Drive Good for him and good for that congregation. Fight the Vatican!

The rise of atheism in America

150 schoolgirls poisoned in Afghanistan for seeking an education  ‎"As a source of objective morality, the Bible is one of the worst books we have. It might be the very worst, in fact—if we didn’t also happen to have the Qur’an." -Sam Harris via The Myth of Secular Moral Chaos

Christopher Hitchens - The Problem of God

I think I learned more in that nine minutes of video than when I spent a few hours reading about Epigenetics. Yay Internet!   

Apes' Simple Nests Are Feats of Engineering

Bill would define holding hands, kissing as "gateway sexual activity" Only conservative, Bible-thumping, God-bothering ignoramuses would propose something so stupid. This is just further demonizing sexuality calling it “Gateway Sexual Activity?” We are equating sex to drugs now? You know what is gateway sexual activity? Being alive.

Christians Debate: Was Jesus For Small Government?

Nine planet solar system found, with room to grow

3.5 Hours of Richard Feynman Movies

This is my new mantra: 

“My own opinion is enough for me, and I claim the right to have it defended against any consensus, any majority, anywhere, any place, any time. And anyone who disagrees with this can pick a number, get in line and kiss my ass.”   –Christopher Hitchens

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Day of Silence

Friday April 20th, 2012* is the Day of Silence.
On the National Day of Silence hundreds of thousands of students nationwide take a vow of silence to bring attention to anti-LGBT name-calling, bullying and harassment in their schools.
This is a fantastic student/youth movement that illustrates how attitudes have changed rather quickly in recent years. Media reports of violence and harassment committed against LGBT teens and adults has made hateful actions and rhetoric against these groups  taboo.

Of course, progress in human rights is not easy. Hate groups, such as American Family Association, Focus on the Family, Save California and many others are opposed to this event or anything that does not conform to their theocratic, Christan Nationalist worldview.

Focus on the Family, by way of their True Tolerance website (*stifles vomit and anger*) spreads propaganda that anti-bullying campaigns are actually an elaborate plot by “teh gays” to indoctrinate our children. THE HORROR!

For example:

In public, they claim it’s all about protecting kids. But behind the scenes, they are using these policies to accomplish three things:

1. Get the leverage they need to get what they want into public schools—such as mandatory diversity trainings, homosexual-themed curricula all the way down to the elementary level and school wide assemblies and/or celebrations on homosexual and transgender issues.
2. A tool that lets them evade parental rights.  
3. A way to circumvent traditional, marriage laws.

As the Friendly Atheist pointed out:  “Apparently, GLSEN is telling everyone they should be engaging in sodomy. I don’t remember getting that memo.”

These hate groups (always Christian and always claiming concern with “family values”) will make the claim that ALL bullying needs to come to an end and LGBT bullying is only a fraction of the reported bullying cases and shouldn't be singled out. While correct on the first point, the second point is only correct in the sense that they are intentionally ignoring population numbers and significance. While the numbers are always in question, it is likely that the population of LGBT people is somewhere between 1.5% and 10%; probably around 3%. Even with this uncertainty, anyone familiar with statistics can tell what is wrong here. The populations of LGBT teens and adults is vastly smaller than the rest of the population. Why is this important? A 2009 National School Climate Survey found that

  • 84.6% of LGBT students reported being verbally harassed, 40.1% reported being physically harassed and 18.8% reported being physically assaulted at school in the past year because of their sexual orientation.
  • 63.7% of LGBT students reported being verbally harassed, 27.2% reported being physically harassed and 12.5% reported being physically assaulted at school in the past year because of their gender expression.
  • 72.4% heard homophobic remarks, such as "faggot" or "dyke," frequently or often at school.
  • Nearly two-thirds (61.1%) of students reported that they felt unsafe in school because of their sexual orientation, and more than a third (39.9%) felt unsafe because of their gender expression.
  • 29.1% of LGBT students missed a class at least once and 30.0% missed at least one day of school in the past month because of safety concerns, compared to only 8.0% and 6.7%, respectively, of a national sample of secondary school students.
With a smaller population size, any group that is specifically targeted for harassment and violence will have a higher incident rate within their group. Sure, other kids might be getting picked on for their clothes or wearing glasses, but the hate and vitriol to a minority group is more of a constant barrage and on a fundamentally different personal level. It’s not that their clothes or glasses are perceived as wrong...”they” are perceived as wrong.

This is what these Christian hate groups do not want to address. It is religious-based discrimination - plain and simple. Anything that their religious scriptures, clergy and beliefs have taught them to find abhorrent must remain abhorrent regardless of reason. There is not another single valid reason for the majority population to discriminate or persecute LGBT people except that it is ingrained in the cultural ethos of monotheism. Do you know why? Because the ancient Hebrews were fixated on human sexuality as a negative. Additionally, they hated their neighbors (the ones they were commanded to kill and steal their land) and these neighbors participated in homosexual practices during their religious ceremonies. Yahweh didn’t find that kosher. That is just one more cultural inheritance from religion we need to realize and discard.

Human progress has largely occurred due to secular principles replacing or influencing the “sacred” principles of religions. Any religion that finds secular humanist principles and goals to be against “god” and resists change is the enemy of human progress. You will be hard pressed to find a religion that does not do this at some point and to some degree.

*originally posted on April 15, 2011