Pharyngula

True monsters

I have a daughter myself, who I want to grow up to be independent and free and sensible and interesting, so I can’t even imagine what it would take to bring a parent to this:

For Abdel-Qader Ali there is only one regret: that he did not kill his daughter at birth. ‘If I had realised then what she would become, I would have killed her the instant her mother delivered her,’ he said with no trace of remorse.

Yikes. What did she do? Become a mass murderer, a terrorist, a destroyer of entire cultures by acts of destruction?

No, nothing quite so horrific. She was guilty of puppy love.

Two weeks after The Observer revealed the shocking story of Rand Abdel-Qader, 17, murdered because of her infatuation with a British solider in Basra, southern Iraq, her father is defiant. Sitting in the front garden of his well-kept home in the city’s Al-Fursi district, he remains a free man, despite having stamped on, suffocated and then stabbed his student daughter to death.

Abdel-Qader Ali is a coward and a monster, the warped product of a bestial ‘civilization’ that treats half its members as chattel and the other half as little better than junkyard dogs, brutes who will maintain the savage order by denying love and individuality and murdering anyone who does not precisely fit their mandated roles.

Abdel-Qader Ali is not an aberration, not some random psychopath who committed an evil and then, all alone and despised, tries to justify it. No, he’s part of a whole culture that favors this violence.

Abdel-Qader, 46, a government employee, was initially arrested but released after two hours. Astonishingly, he said, police congratulated him on what he had done. ‘They are men and know what honour is,’ he said.

It was her first youthful infatuation and it would be her last. She died on 16 March after her father discovered she had been seen in public talking to Paul, considered to be the enemy, the invader and a Christian. Though her horrified mother, Leila Hussein, called Rand’s two brothers, Hassan, 23, and Haydar, 21, to restrain Abdel-Qader as he choked her with his foot on her throat, they joined in. Her shrouded corpse was then tossed into a makeshift grave without ceremony as her uncles spat on it in disgust.

‘Death was the least she deserved,’ said Abdel-Qader. ‘I don’t regret it. I had the support of all my friends who are fathers, like me, and know what she did was unacceptable to any Muslim that honours his religion,’ he said.

They are not men, they are abused dogs. They have no honor; honor is not blind, stupid obedience to a death cult that demands that you murder your children or your sisters for showing signs of humanity.

I count at least three tragedies here.

One is these ‘men’ who have had their minds corrupted by a foul religion.

The greatest is Rand Abdel-Qader herself, murdered for an infatuation.

The third is one only briefly mentioned: the mother, Leila Hussein. I wonder…does her skin crawl at having to submit to the vile creature who tortured her daughter to death, or is she sufficiently indoctrinated into the evils of her culture that she accepts it? Either way, it’s a nightmare.

Comments

  1. #1 kid bitzer
    May 12, 2008

    but remember:
    if you suggest that there is such a thing as a ‘patriarchy’, then you’re just an hysterical feminist.

    god this is sickening. one of the nightmares from which humankind can only hope someday to awaken.

  2. #2 Josh
    May 12, 2008

    Fuck…

  3. #3 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    May 12, 2008

    Wait, I thought you never criticized Islam….

    /eyeroll

    This is disgusting.

  4. #4 Jeff Flowers
    May 12, 2008

    All religion is bad, in my opinion, but Islam stands out as especially heinous. I hope that one day it is eradicated.

  5. #5 amphiox
    May 12, 2008

    Ugh. Reading this makes it hard for me to talk my darker side out of wishing for a stray american missile to plaster this guy and all the other so-called “men” involved.

    Incidentally, so much for PZ not critizing islam on this blog.

  6. #6 tony
    May 12, 2008

    Islam today is where christianity was in the middle ages… so should we expect anything other than medieval behaviors?

    that said – this is truly.fucked.up.

  7. #7 MAJeff, OM
    May 12, 2008

    spezio ranting about zionism and discounting this murder as propaganda in 5, 4, 3, 2….

  8. #8 Aegis
    May 12, 2008

    I’ll go ahead and say it plainly: Islam is a horrific, as are ultimately all religions. If you think your religion is good, or that its good outweighs its bad, then you need only look on this and thousands of examples like it to find conclusively that you are wrong.

    You know, If in 2001, Bush had declared an outright war on Islam, it would have been simpler (and far more defensible). Simply put, if your religion can be used to morally justify killing your own daughter (as a father myself, I cannot even seriously imagine such an act), then your religion is faulty and deserves to be ended. Frankly, the same can be said of christianity, although at least it isn’t quite so institutionalized as it is in “modern” islam.

    Guess what you WON’T read about tody? Mass condemnation of this event from the world islamic community.

  9. #9 SteveM
    May 12, 2008

    The third is one only briefly mentioned: the mother, Leila Hussein. I wonder…does her skin crawl at having to submit to the vile creature who tortured her daughter to death, or is she sufficiently indoctrinated into the evils of her culture that she accepts it? Either way, it’s a nightmare.

    Only briefly mentioned? Almost half the article is about the mother. Starting with:

    He said his daughter’s ‘bad genes were passed on from her mother’. Rand’s mother, 41, remains in hiding after divorcing her husband in the immediate aftermath of the killing, living in fear of retribution from his family. She also still bears the scars of the severe beating he inflicted on her, breaking her arm in the process, when she told him she was going

  10. #10 Nick Gotts
    May 12, 2008

    Probably a case in which the occupiers’ puppets and their main opponents would be united in applauding the murderer.

    Re PZ’s third tragedy, this is from the article linked to:

    He said his daughter’s ‘bad genes were passed on from her mother’. Rand’s mother, 41, remains in hiding after divorcing her husband in the immediate aftermath of the killing, living in fear of retribution from his family. She also still bears the scars of the severe beating he inflicted on her, breaking her arm in the process, when she told him she was going. ‘They cannot accept me leaving him. When I first left I went to a cousin’s home, but every day they were delivering notes to my door saying I was a prostitute and deserved the same death as Rand,’ she said.

    The mother is now trying to raise enough money to escape abroad. ‘I miss my two boys,’ she said. ‘But they have sent a message saying that I am wrong for defending Rand and that I should go back home and live like a blessed Muslim woman,’ said Leila, who is now volunteering with a local organisation campaigning for better protection for women in Basra.

    I wonder how one could get a donation through to Leila Hussein? Anyone know?

  11. #11 Stephen Wells
    May 12, 2008

    Actually the last two paragraphs of the story answer one of your questions:

    “Rand’s mother used to call her ‘Rose’. ‘That was my nickname for her because when she was born she was so beautiful,’ she said.

    ‘Now, my lovely Rose is in her grave. But, God will make her father pay, either in this world … or in the world after.’”

    So, no, she is not happy or accepting. But she’s still expecting an imaginary being to deal with it.

  12. #12 Anniek
    May 12, 2008

    does her skin crawl at having to submit to the vile creature who tortured her daughter to death, or is she sufficiently indoctrinated into the evils of her culture that she accepts it?

    If you read more on the article you can find she is in hiding after divorcing her husband because he killed their daughter.

  13. #13 SteveN
    May 12, 2008

    There is an active discussion of this report ongoing at the Richard Dawkins Foundation site here where I posted the following:

    … although I can believe that (but not understand how) a man’s mind can be so twisted by the sickness that is religion that he is actually proud of murdering his own child, and I can believe that other such sickos at the police station would congratulate him, I fail to understand why he is not being prosecuted anyway. I am assuming that it is illegal in Iraq to commit murder, but is ‘honour killing’ a legal exception? Is there no legal system in place in Iraq to make sure that self-confessed, proud murderers like this are arrested and tried?

    Does anyone here know what the actual legal situation in Iraq is?

  14. #14 Lilly de Lure
    May 12, 2008

    PZ said:

    The third is one only briefly mentioned: the mother, Leila Hussein. I wonder…does her skin crawl at having to submit to the vile creature who tortured her daughter to death, or is she sufficiently indoctrinated into the evils of her culture that she accepts it? Either way, it’s a nightmare.

    From what the article said, the mother is one hell of a brave woman, in marked contrast to the evil monster she was married to:

    Rand’s mother, 41, remains in hiding after divorcing her husband in the immediate aftermath of the killing, living in fear of retribution from his family. She also still bears the scars of the severe beating he inflicted on her, breaking her arm in the process, when she told him she was going. ‘They cannot accept me leaving him. When I first left I went to a cousin’s home, but every day they were delivering notes to my door saying I was a prostitute and deserved the same death as Rand,’ she said.

    ‘She was killed by animals. Every night when go to bed I remember the face of Rand calling for help while her father and brothers ended her life,’ she said, tears streaming down her face.

    Also further down, she’s trying to do something to stop this happening to anyone else:

    The mother is now trying to raise enough money to escape abroad. ‘I miss my two boys,’ she said. ‘But they have sent a message saying that I am wrong for defending Rand and that I should go back home and live like a blessed Muslim woman,’ said Leila, who is now volunteering with a local organisation campaigning for better protection for women in Basra. (emphasis mine)

    Now that is what I call courage and honour, shame it is lost on her “honorable” male relatives.

  15. #15 AndyD
    May 12, 2008

    “Love of God and compassion and empathy leads you to a very glorious place, and science leads you to killing people.” Ben Stein.

  16. #16 MH
    May 12, 2008

    from the article: “She died on 16 March after her father discovered she had been seen in public talking to Paul, considered to be the enemy, the invader and a Christian.”

    So her ‘crime’, for which she was sentenced to death, was simply talking to an ‘undesirable’? Fuck!

  17. #17 kid bitzer
    May 12, 2008

    #15 ftw.

  18. #18 Josh
    May 12, 2008

    Andy, you forget. Stein is talking about the real God…

  19. #19 Iain Walker
    May 12, 2008

    The third is one only briefly mentioned: the mother, Leila Hussein. I wonder…does her skin crawl at having to submit to the vile creature who tortured her daughter to death, or is she sufficiently indoctrinated into the evils of her culture that she accepts it?

    Well, according to the article you linked to, she’s denounced her husband’s actions, has divorced him and is currently in hiding. She’s also apparently doing voluntary work with an organisation campaigning for better protection for women in Basra, although she’s trying to raise money to get out of the country.

  20. #20 Jams
    May 12, 2008

    “I wonder…does her skin crawl at having to submit to the vile creature who tortured her daughter to death, or is she sufficiently indoctrinated into the evils of her culture that she accepts it?” – P.Z. Myers

    It’s almost always the later. In spite of what Mr. Patriarchy and Mr. scary quotes for men think, this isn’t a male specific crime. Mother’s are usually cheering it on if not demanding it outright. I don’t even know how credible the “I called them to help” story is.

    People don’t act this way because they are men. If they did, this kind of thing would be ubiquitous across all cultures, and all families. It just isn’t. You might as well attribute their behaviour to their skin colour (statistically, it’s probably more accurate, though certainly more just as much bullshit).

  21. #21 SteveF
    May 12, 2008

    I fully expect Spezio to turn up and inform us all that PZs criticism of Islam is part of a Mossad sponsored plot.

  22. #22 Randal Birkey
    May 12, 2008

    Mr. Myers,

    I respectfully ask you to share with me on what grounds you object to this man’s treatment of is daughter? You seem to be appealing to me to agree with you about how vile this man is based upon some shared sense of fairness or decency that he has supposedly violated. What is the source of that shared standard you are appealing to me to agree with you based on?

    Or, have I misunderstood you?

    Randy

  23. #23 Interrobang
    May 12, 2008

    People don’t act this way because they are men.

    Half right. They act that way because the culture has told them that because they’re men, they’re entitled to police what women do with their bodies, and that women aren’t really human the way they are, so killing them carries approximately the same moral weight as getting rid of a malfunctioning machine.

    This is seriously not an Islam-specific thing. We simply don’t hear about the cases that happen every single day where women are tortured, raped, beaten, and killed by men for not conforming to the men’s arbitrary standards. In our culture, we don’t hide it behind a religious euphemism; we call it “domestic violence,” and most people insist that it’s a personal problem, rather than the inevitable, cultural result of a society that continually others and dehumanises women, and places men in the role of enforcing women’s gender conformity.

    When “honour killings” happen in Western society, we shrug our shoulders and call it “child abuse” or wonder what she was doing marrying that abusive loser in the first place, and asking “Why didn’t she just leave?” Pointing this up as though it’s specifically to do with Islam is misleading and mendacious; Islam simply provides a different sort of cover story to the standard Western narrative(s).

    Incidentally, fundamentalist Christians would openly do this — and claim it was part and parcel of their religion — if they thought they could get away with it. They’ve been working hard, actually, to try to change the laws so that they can. (For a really scary time, look up “Christian discipline” and “voluntary slavery.”)

  24. #24 Snark7
    May 12, 2008

    @Randy: The “shared standard” is the evolved moral sense. Every healthy human being has it. Problem is, that it is possible to be corrupted by evil dreck as some ideologies, religious or otherwise. In this case it was Islam, in others it is e.g. Christianity.

    Btw.: You probably wanted to hint at one or the other imagined being, aka “god” as the common source of morals ? Bad luck there.

  25. #25 Lana
    May 12, 2008

    The New York Times has an interesting op-ed piece this morning that Barack Obama would be considered an apostate, so could be in danger from “good” Muslims. Islam says he’s a Muslim because his father was a Muslim, even though his father rejected his faith. So by becoming a Christian, Obama is also rejecting his faith and risks the ultimate punishment.

    Scary.

  26. #26 Serena
    May 12, 2008

    egh. This whole buisness makes my stomach roll.

    I can not imagine what living in a shithole society where the rights of women are so marginalized would be like. It is bad enough to run into one or two people who espouse this sort of bullshit as maintaining order in their family. But when it is supported by people outside the family, it seems like an overwhelmingly horrible problem.

    And this is what pleases God? Fuck that. It is the most bullshit excuse for murder and abuse.

  27. #27 Ric
    May 12, 2008

    This makes me sick and sad.

  28. #28 Nick Gotts
    May 12, 2008

    Re #22. Mr. Birkley – are you a psychopath, without a conscience, or the capacity to empathise with the suffering of others? If not, what is the point of your post?

  29. #29 Brian
    May 12, 2008

    The ‘Religion of Peace’ strikes again.

  30. #30 mattmc
    May 12, 2008

    Im not sure why I am even dignifying this post (#22) with an answer but:
    “I respectfully ask you to share with me on what grounds you object to this man’s treatment of is daughter?”
    On the grounds of being a fucking human being who is disgusted by this kind of behavior.

    “You seem to be appealing to me to agree with you about how vile this man is based upon some shared sense of fairness or decency that he has supposedly violated.”
    You are getting warmer. Dumbass

    ” What is the source of that shared standard you are appealing to me to agree with you based on?”
    Jesus tittyfucking christ man (HT to Etha)… Are you serious???

    Or, have I misunderstood you?

    Yes, based on a cusory glance at your blog I think you may have misunderstood alot of things.

  31. #31 Iain Walker
    May 12, 2008

    Randal Birkey (Comment #22):

    What is the source of that shared standard you are appealing to me to agree with you based on?

    Instinctive human tendencies towards empathy and compassion, one assumes. I.e., not the arbitrary say-so of an unaccountable supernatural authority, if this is going to be an “atheists have no basis for morality” thing.

  32. #32 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    May 12, 2008

    Mr. Birkley – are you a psychopath, without a conscience, or the capacity to empathise with the suffering of others? If not, what is the point of your post?

    He thinks he’s being sneaky and going to pounce with the “GOD IS the SOURCE of all MORALS!!11!!1111″ attack.

  33. #33 Lilly de Lure
    May 12, 2008

    Jams said:

    It’s almost always the later. In spite of what Mr. Patriarchy and Mr. scary quotes for men think, this isn’t a male specific crime. Mother’s are usually cheering it on if not demanding it outright. I don’t even know how credible the “I called them to help” story is.

    In this specific case this simply isn’t the case, if you read the article. Not that I’m arguing that women (particularly those senior in the family) do not act as enablers (and sometimes intiators) in this sort of crime, there have been several cases when they have, but there is absolutely no evidence that Rand’s mother did any such thing.

    Apart from anything else, when women are involved in honour crimes their motivations are essentially the same as the male participants – protection of a particularly sick version of family honour which focuses on controlling the behaviour of family members, particularly female family members. If Leila Hussein was moved by such considerations she would not then have divorced her husband and run away in it’s aftermath, thus bringing the “shame” on the family that this crime was supposed to avoid.

  34. #34 Kseniya
    May 12, 2008

    Nick, Mr. Birkley is trying to get PZ to admit that he’s appealing to God’s absolute moral authority, rather than, say, common human decency. Check Birkley’s website for details.

  35. #35 Jams
    May 12, 2008

    “[...] but there is absolutely no evidence that Rand’s mother did any such thing.” – Lilly de Lure

    Agreed.

  36. #36 PZ Myers
    May 12, 2008

    I respectfully ask you to share with me on what grounds you object to this man’s treatment of is daughter? You seem to be appealing to me to agree with you about how vile this man is based upon some shared sense of fairness or decency that he has supposedly violated. What is the source of that shared standard you are appealing to me to agree with you based on?

    I’m going to take a wild guess that you are one of those idiotic demented fuckwits who think atheists lack a foundation for moral behavior. Or have I misunderstood you?

    The answer is obvious, to anyone but a religiot who thinks his moral sense is beamed into his brain by an imaginary space fairy. Rand Abdel-Qader was a human being with her own feelings and desires, who was guilty of feeling the first flutterings of love…something most of us have experienced. She was brutally murdered. Us normal human beings have this feeling called “empathy”, in which we can put ourselves in another’s place and understand their treatment, and in this case, empathy can only produce a sense of injustice and grief at a young life lost.

    I am sorry if you are unable to understand this, but only psychopaths lack empathy, and you have to be psychotic to think your instructions are coming from a deity, so my sympathy for you will have limits. Please wall yourself up in a monastery soon so I don’t have to worry about your effects on society if this is the case.

  37. #37 Matt
    May 12, 2008

    @ 22: Or, have I misunderstood you?

    Of course you have, deliberately and with malice aforethought.

    Considering that your magic book justifies murdering family members (OK, anyone) under the flimsiest of pretenses, I would expect nothing less from you.

    @ 32: He thinks he’s being sneaky and going to pounce with the “GOD IS the SOURCE of all MORALS!!11!!1111″ attack.

    Oh, no, not THAT one! I never see that one coming. Quite ferocious.

  38. #38 Clan:Rewired
    May 12, 2008

    Mr. Birkley about to go down in flames on this commentsection in 5…4…3…2…

  39. #39 Dennis N
    May 12, 2008

    Religion of peace…

  40. #40 Jason Failes
    May 12, 2008

    As bad as American-style fundamentalism can get, at least when an individual goes off the rails and bombs an abortion clinic/ lets their child die needlessly while they pray for healing/ leaves grandma dead on the toilet for two months while they pray for resurrection, said individuals are hauled off to prison/the nut house.

    That said, perhaps this will drive the point home to the moderates why we fight so passionately, relentlessly, and yes, sometimes rudely, to preserve church/state separation in the Western world.

  41. #41 Clan:Rewired
    May 12, 2008

    wow… faster than I thought, good going!

  42. #42 S. Scott
    May 12, 2008

    This actually brought me to tears.

  43. #43 BobC
    May 12, 2008

    Randal Birkey (#22), I was wondering why you asked such an incredibly stupid question, so I checked your blog and I found this: “My wife and I went and saw the newly released movie ‘Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed’ last night, and I’ve got to say it is one of the best movies I’ve seen in a long time.”

    Now I understand. You’re a Christian moron.

  44. #44 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    May 12, 2008

    A quick perusal of Mr. Birkley’s blog will answer any questions you have that aren’t made painfully obvious from his leading question.

  45. #45 stevelaudig
    May 12, 2008

    In conclusion then, George W. Bush, new father in law, is also responsible for her death.

  46. #46 E in MD
    May 12, 2008

    Yet Atheists are immoral, godless sociopaths….Riiiiight.

  47. #47 kid bitzer
    May 12, 2008

    #20–

    “In spite of what Mr. Patriarchy and Mr. scary quotes for men think, this isn’t a male specific crime….People don’t act this way because they are men.”

    nice straw patriarchy you got there.
    do you understand what ‘patriarchy’ means?
    it’s an ideology. a system of beliefs. something that some cultures endorse and others do not, or not to the same extent.

    it’s not a claim that men act a certain way *because they are men*, as though we’d have to extinguish y-chromosomes to get rid of it.

    rather, it’s the claim that certain men buy into an ideology that is beneficial to men. and of course that ideology can create a power-structure in which it is beneficial for certain women to buy into the lie as well.

    jesus–it’s as though we were talking about white supremacist racism, and you said “that can’t explain lynchings, because not all white people lynch! and further more, i read once about a house-slave who despised field-slaves, so it can’t be a white thing at all!”

    look: white supremacist racism is not something that automatically accompanies any individual with a certain skin-color. it’s a system of beliefs, false ones. it’s an ideology that benefits the white skin-color, and creates a power-structure in which it is sometimes advantageous even for the victims to endorse it (in order to gain slight advantages over other victims).

    ditto for the patriarchy, got it?

    deep analysis you’ve got going there, pal.

  48. #48 HaSatan
    May 12, 2008

    Regarding #22: oh, man, there are idiots in the world.

  49. #49 freelunch
    May 12, 2008

    What is the source of that shared standard you are appealing to me to agree with you based on?

    It certainly is not religion or God. After all, that is the reason this girl was murdered by her own father. When people are not blinded by religiously-inspired hatred and no longer engage in ‘God-pleasing’ evil, they can see that treating others as equals is proper.

    The morality that supposedly came from God is backward and hateful. It defends murder, slavery, rape, and abuse of others. Of course, God had nothing to do with it and those who blame God for Abdel-Qader Ali’s behavior or claim that it was God’s will that he do this are merely justifying their own vile attitudes toward others.

    Sadly, Abdel-Qader Ali would have been more likely to have been brought to justice under the secular regime that Bush overthrew than the newly religionist one that Bush has installed.

  50. #50 Colugo
    May 12, 2008

    This is not specific to Islam and does not always occur within Muslim communities. On the other hand, Interrobang is incorrect (no offense) – in lethality and positive sanctioning by the larger culture this is not the analog to Western spousal abuse. It is arguably analogous to some dominionist and other extreme Christian sects, but these are as aberrant in the context of modern North America as are the Quiverfull devotees with 18 children.

    This is a predictable consequence of female reproduction being a collective asset of clans and male ‘honor’ being dependent on the maintenance of control over that asset. These are features typical of patrilineal pastoralist and agriculturalist societies (even if these populations have become industrial or postindustrial, these practices may remain). Hence there arises a cultural complex that includes the obligatory murder of close relatives by brothers, fathers, and uncles of teen girls and women when the victims become so-called “whores” (which includes everything from adultery to a crush on an outsider to wearing makeup). Other associated practices are veiling, restriction of women to the home unless accompanied by a male relative, and female genital mutilation (though the last may not be present in a given society). The hideous cultural practice of honor killing is also seen, to name a couple of examples, in the non-Muslim Yezidi of Kurdistan and Sikhs of India.

    Some ways to remedy this problem: Punish and dishonor ‘honor murderers,’ promote female economic independence, and de-link the ‘honor’ of individual males from family and clan prestige.

  51. #51 omar ali
    May 12, 2008

    protection of patriarchy is now the number one goal of islamism…and it is the one on which they have the most solid support. For example, a few years ago a Pakistani girl was killed in her lawyer’s office by a gunman smuggled in BY HER MOTHER and no one was ever arrested or punished in any way. Supposedly liberal lawmakers in her home province refused to condemn her murder because of the strong support in that area for maintaining this “honor” system above all other considerations. Full details at http://www.dawn.com/weekly/cowas/20030223.htm
    I have not figured this out completely, but some great insights probably lie buried in this sick situation. Has anyone got a good article/book to recommend on this topic?

  52. #52 Kermit
    May 12, 2008

    Randy Birkey @22 “I respectfully ask you to share with me on what grounds you object to this man’s treatment of is daughter? ”

    Others have already made their opinions clear on this. I’ll assume you are suggesting that Yahweh is the source of moral behavior. Do you accept the Old Testament punishment of stoning for a child’s disobedience or disrespect? If so, I see no moral difference between you and this poor girl’s father. If the thought of killing your child for merely talking back evokes repulsion, then I point out that you are a better man than your god. Muslims, like Christians, are better people the farther they are from their religious roots.

    If you respond with a non sequitor of the nature “We have a new covenant now, and the old rules no longer apply”, then I would have to ask why such a divine law was moral back in the day, but is no longer.

  53. #53 E in MD
    May 12, 2008

    The ‘Religion of Peace’ strikes again.

    Posted by: Brian | May 12, 2008 10:18 AM

    “If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend, which is as thine own soul, entice thee secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which thou hast not known, thou, nor thy fathers; Namely, of the gods of the people which are round about you … Thou shalt not consent unto him, nor hearken unto him; neither shall thine eye pity him, neither shalt thou spare, neither shalt thou conceal him: But thou shalt surely kill him; thine hand shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people. And thou shalt stone him with stones, that he die.”
    — Deuteronomy.13:6-10

    If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them: Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place; And they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard. And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die: so shalt thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and fear. — Deuteronomy 21:18-21

    He that smiteth his father, or his mother, shall be surely put to death. — Exodus 21:15

    He that curseth his father, or his mother, shall surely be put to death. — Exodus 21:17

    Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones. — Psalm 137:9

    and before you say some stupid bullshit like “the old testament doesn’t apply to Christians”, an all knowing, all seeing god wouldn’t need to make revisions of his eternal unchanging always perfect word.

  54. #54 Dustin
    May 12, 2008

    and before you say some stupid bullshit like “the old testament doesn’t apply to Christians”, an all knowing, all seeing god wouldn’t need to make revisions of his eternal unchanging always perfect word.

    And for the ironic cherry on the shit sundae that is Christian apologetics, refer to Malachi 3:6 and Heb. 13:8.

  55. #55 Seamyst
    May 12, 2008

    See, I don’t think Islam itself is to blame for this, any more than I think Christianity itself is to blame for what people have done in its name. It’s just the whacko nutjobs who (mis)interpret Islam (or Christianity) to support their violent, misogynistic tendencies who are to blame.

  56. #56 pleco
    May 12, 2008

    @55:

    I don’t think they are misinterpreting anything. Rather, they are interpreting exactly what is written.

  57. #57 TheWireMonkey
    May 12, 2008

    In cultures where honor killings are expected a woman can be murdered by her own family for being raped.

    http://www.stophonourkillings.com/index.php?name=News&file=article&sid=1800

  58. #58 maxi
    May 12, 2008

    It’s just the whacko nutjobs who (mis)interpret Islam (or Christianity) to support their violent, misogynistic tendencies who are to blame.

    Yeah, it’s just such a shame that some people take such innocent books that don’t at all condone rape, murder or genocide and somehow manage to interpret them incorrectly! Crazy!

  59. #59 Marcus Ranum
    May 12, 2008

    Is there any possible evolutionary advantage that a gene line can accrue by culling its young females early? (I know I’m mangling the terminology here, I’m not a biologist) I’ve heard of the way male cats will kill off the young of other males; could there be some kind of underlying reason behind this? It seems to me that letting religious and cultural fuckbaggery chop off a whole branch of your genetic legacy is the evolutionary acme of stupid, no?

  60. #60 Claudia
    May 12, 2008

    Man, I wished I believed in prayer… I just had to hold my little baby and cry…

  61. #61 pleco
    May 12, 2008

    @55:

    I don’t think they are misinterpreting anything. Rather, they are doing exactly what is written. It is the religion itself that is to blame, as well as the psychopaths that wallow in it.

  62. #62 CL
    May 12, 2008

    Everybody seems to have the need to do God’s work for God, is he busy with other things? If God isn’t killing people for ‘breaking rules’ then why are people taking it upon themselves to do it? Seems pretty egotistical to me. Any answers Birkey?

    CL
    http://www.coulterlewkowitz.com/

  63. #63 BlueIndependent
    May 12, 2008

    I don’t know. Maybe I will butt heads with some people here on this issue but incidents like these are why I think the death penalty is sometimes a good thing. We know who did the killing, we know the motive, easy access to evidence, and we have an unrepentent confession. If this happened in the U.S. I’d say send all three of them up the river, goodbye, see ya never, likely wouldn’t even think twice about it. This stuff just enrages me to no end.

    But it’s the ME and medieval tribalism reigns supreme, stoked by power grabbers with money and no interest in doing anything for their fellow countryfolk, further stoked by religious extremeism of the worst stripe. I dare say women appear to hold as much or even less value in society than slaves. They can be killed at will for a simple affectionate look at another human being, they are the sole proprietors of family “honor”, whose possession is ironically always placed in the mental hands of men, it’s just 100% revolting on so many levels.

    I want the ME to reform, and I don’t want to sound like I’m pro-war at all (I’m not), but the person that figures out how to reform that part of the world for the future will perhaps be deserving of millenial praise throughout the world.

  64. #64 Peter Mc
    May 12, 2008

    You don’t have to go as far as Iraq for religiously inspired domestic barbarism.

    The police in the UK reckon there are about a dozen of these murders in the UK every year. The most recent I can recall a young woman had the wrong kind of of boyfriend and was strangled by her brother, the mother directing proceedings with father and other brother encouraging.

    The London police have set up a task force and are looking into about 100 unsolved murders.

  65. #65 Jason Failes
    May 12, 2008

    “It’s just the whacko nutjobs who (mis)interpret Islam (or Christianity) to support their violent, misogynistic tendencies who are to blame.”

    No. I’ve read both the Bible and the Koran: Actions like these are not the result of any misinterpretation.

    The Bible and Koran really do say all of those horrible things and more, thankfully, that most modern Christians ignore and, hopefully, that future Muslims will also learn to ignore.

  66. #66 Jorge
    May 12, 2008

    The skin crawls at the horrendous crime, but it also crawls at the prejudice patent in the post.

    You see, Leila Hussein is a product of the exact same culture that produced the men(?) in this story. Just as you are the product of the very same culture that produced Ben Stein. So if you evaluate a whole culture by its criminals, why shouldn’t we evaluate America by Ben Stein and all his court of assholes?

  67. #67 freelunch
    May 12, 2008

    See, I don’t think Islam itself is to blame for this, any more than I think Christianity itself is to blame for what people have done in its name. It’s just the whacko nutjobs who (mis)interpret Islam (or Christianity) to support their violent, misogynistic tendencies who are to blame.

    How much of a misinterpretation is it? Some Old Testament laws have already been quoted here and the Q’ran isn’t much different. It is true that many Moslems, Christians and Jews manage to ignore these oppressive laws from centuries ago as they cherry-pick their scriptures, but that doesn’t mean that those who want to adhere to these reactionary rules cannot find reasonably solid justification for their hateful behavior in those scriptures. Worse, the people who wouldn’t kill their own daughter seem quite willing to give someone else a pass when they do it.

  68. #68 Lilly de Lure
    May 12, 2008

    Seamyst said:

    See, I don’t think Islam itself is to blame for this, any more than I think Christianity itself is to blame for what people have done in its name. It’s just the whacko nutjobs who (mis)interpret Islam (or Christianity) to support their violent, misogynistic tendencies who are to blame.

    I will agree with this when we see a flood of unconditional condemnations (i.e. no blaming the victim e.t.c. nonsense) of honour crimes and killing such as this one from the relevant religious leaders.

    When this is given by religious authorities in combination with public support for the organisations that are fighting against such crimes and protection for women currently in fear of their lives from various relatives then I will hold religion blameless of (at best) passive collusion in such atrocities. So far however, I am not holding my breath.

  69. #69 Colugo
    May 12, 2008

    Whether the issue is honor killings or extreme fertility, citing verses from religious texts (Torah, New Testament, Koran, Book of Mormon) is of limited utility in understanding why these behaviors are being manifested.

    Within religious communities think of religious texts as the DNA of religious behavior. Must be directly determinative, right? Not at all. Just like genes are differentially epigenetically silenced and have their transcription induced by steroid hormones that bind to DNA, so can cultural DNA be differentially expressed in vastly different ways. Think of the phenotypic diversity of cell types, all genetically identical, within an organism. It all depends on the epigenetic context and the current cellular environment.

    Changing the cultural, economic, and political context of a religious community will have a massive impact on the way any religious text is manifested.

  70. #70 Dunkleosteus
    May 12, 2008

    Iraq used to be one of the most secular countries in the Middle East. That oversight is now fixed.

  71. #71 emily
    May 12, 2008

    Before condemning Islam you might like to visit some Islamic communities in Fiji and New Zealand. Religion interacts with other aspects in the culture. The Muslims I know would be just as disgusted by this atrocity. Even as a lifelong atheist and full time scientist I am increasingly disinterested in visiting a blog that contains rampant hated speech against a religious ‘enemy’ and stereotype an entire wolrd religion.

    How is this different to what is done in Expelled and other digusting propagandas of distortion?

  72. #72 Matt Penfold
    May 12, 2008

    I take the Observer and read this article.

    The mother did object to her husband killing their daughter. As a result the husband broke her arm and divorced her. The mother is now in hiding fearing retribution from his family.

    How nice it is know that all those deaths of Americans, Britons, Iraqis and others were not in vain, and that a decent society is rising out of the ashes of Saddam’s regime.

  73. #73 Dylan
    May 12, 2008

    Re: #22, it really is hilarious, and educational, how easily the arguments of the Jesus crowd can be destroyed by even the tiniest bit of reason, skepticism and basic common sense. How these lunatics continue to hypnotize billions of followers is a complete mystery to me.

  74. #74 Dustin
    May 12, 2008

    It’s just the whacko nutjobs who (mis)interpret Islam (or Christianity) to support their violent, misogynistic tendencies who are to blame.

    As is abundantly clear from the explicit statements of both the Bible and Koran, it is the people who claim the religions are peaceful who are either misinterpreting them or simply lying.

    Unless, of course, all of those stonings both books command are just metaphorical stonings with metaphorical rocks hurled at the metaphorical heads of metaphorical heretics by metaphorical patriarchs. And all of that is really just a metaphor for being peaceful.

  75. #75 Matt Penfold
    May 12, 2008

    I take the Observer and read this article.

    The mother did object to her husband killing their daughter. As a result the husband broke her arm and divorced her. The mother is now in hiding fearing retribution from his family.

    How nice it is know that all those deaths of Americans, Britons, Iraqis and others were not in vain, and that a decent society is rising out of the ashes of Saddam’s regime.

  76. #76 freelunch
    May 12, 2008

    You see, Leila Hussein is a product of the exact same culture that produced the men(?) in this story. Just as you are the product of the very same culture that produced Ben Stein. So if you evaluate a whole culture by its criminals, why shouldn’t we evaluate America by Ben Stein and all his court of assholes?

    Your analogy is preposterous. Ben Stein didn’t commit a serious crime and he wasn’t praised by the police for murdering his own daughter. In the US people were outraged when a girl died because her parents refused to seek medical help for her and they are being tried for their crime. In Iraq a murderer was applauded and is almost certainly going to get away with it.

  77. #77 Rev. BigDUmbChimp
    May 12, 2008

    How is this different to what is done in Expelled and other digusting propagandas of distortion?

    You have got to be kidding me?

    I’ll take pitifully poor analogies for 100 alex.

    Being critical of how a culture based on a religion acts and results in the “honor killing” of a daughter by her father is the same as Ben Stein lying throughout an entire film?

  78. #78 Glen Davidson
    May 12, 2008

    I respectfully ask you to share with me on what grounds you object to this man’s treatment of is daughter? You seem to be appealing to me to agree with you about how vile this man is based upon some shared sense of fairness or decency that he has supposedly violated. What is the source of that shared standard you are appealing to me to agree with you based on?

    Yeah, Birkey, we got this standard from Allah, through his holy book the Koran.

    Oh, or were you expecting something else?

    See, moron, the problem is that any “standard” written in a “holy book” has to actualy be evaluated by something else, which ideally is our humanity. This is why much of the Bible is no longer considered to be moral.

    Glen Davidson
    http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

  79. #79 Dunc
    May 12, 2008

    Does anyone here know what the actual legal situation in Iraq is?

    I’m afraid that the bad news here is that this would have been illegal under Saddam, but after we invaded we let the nutcases rewrite the relevant laws and take over the job of enforcing them. It may still be technically illegal, but “legal” and “illegal” are not terms with any real meaning in Iraq these days.

    Under Saddam, Iraq was one of the best places in the Islamic world to be a woman. Oh, and if you think that this statement means that I’m “objectively pro-Saddam” or some such, then you’re an idiot.

  80. #80 Martin
    May 12, 2008

    In other news…

    PZ Myers injects another dose of hate and fear into the world.

    Good job.

    [ACTIVATED: Flame Resistant Zombie Shield]

  81. #81 Moggie
    May 12, 2008

    #71:

    Religion interacts with other aspects in the culture. The Muslims I know would be just as disgusted by this atrocity.

    In other words, the secular (positive) aspects of a culture dilute the religious (negative), hopefully rendering the latter mostly harmlessTM.

  82. #82 Dustin
    May 12, 2008

    PZ Myers injects another dose of hate and fear into the world.

    Yes. He fabricated the entire story.

    Dipshit.

  83. #83 Matt Penfold
    May 12, 2008

    “Before condemning Islam you might like to visit some Islamic communities in Fiji and New Zealand. Religion interacts with other aspects in the culture. The Muslims I know would be just as disgusted by this atrocity. Even as a lifelong atheist and full time scientist I am increasingly disinterested in visiting a blog that contains rampant hated speech against a religious ‘enemy’ and stereotype an entire wolrd religion.”

    You would have a point had the authorities in Basra put the man of trial for the murder of his daughter, and had the religious authorities in that city condemned his actions. Unfortunatly the police applauded his actions and released him without charge, and there would seem to be silence from the religious leaders. If you want to carry on claiming that does not indicate something is terribly wrong with society in Iraq, and that a fundamentalist form of Islam is at the heart of what is wrong, then carry on. You are free to hold onto your delusions.

  84. #84 Jason Failes
    May 12, 2008

    “In other news…

    PZ Myers injects another dose of hate and fear into the world.”

    PZ killed that young woman?

    You know you’ve taken political correctness too far when you’re criticizing a blogger for reporting and commenting on an atrocity, rather than criticizing the atrocity itself.

  85. #85 Calladus
    May 12, 2008

    One of the arguments on “morals by God” that I’ve recently run into is that by merely being present, God’s moral “radiation” (for want of a better word) permeates everyone, religious and secular. Therefore, even us poor Atheists have a “moral sense” because of God’s moral sense.

    It’s an interesting argument – untestable of course. If God exists he won’t participate in any experiment where we ask him to “step out of the room” to see if we all lose our moral sense and go crazy.

    The argument also would seem to negate free will. But the few Christians I’ve spoken to about this don’t seem to agree.

  86. #86 Armchair Dissident
    May 12, 2008

    See, I don’t think Islam itself is to blame for this, any more than I think Christianity itself is to blame for what people have done in its name.

    I disagree. Islam and Christianity both have bat-shit insane laws and principles scattered throughout them that provide support to violent ideologies. The fact that they are nearly ubiquitous within their respective areas provides comfort to people who are violent, misogynistic or bigoted; it provides them with a shield of false piety that they can hide behind.

    To a smaller degree, look at Cardinal Murphy O’Conner in the UK. He spouts insane ramblings that would shame most people, but he is provided with respectable platforms purely because he claims to be religious. Look at any religious leader, and they’ll spout similarly vile claims, and hide behind religious clothes.

    It is worth noting, too, that – in general – it is the extremist nut-jobs that appear to have the most support from their respective “Holy” books for their lunacy. It’s the liberal religious figures that are having problems supporting their positions, because their books just don’t say what they want them to say.

  87. #87 Matt Penfold
    May 12, 2008

    To add to what I said in reply to Emily.

    A religion is what the believers in that religion make it. If believers think it is OK to kill your daughter because she had a crush on a British soldier then there is something seriously wrong with the believers and their beliefs. You cannot excuse their actions by saying that is not what their religion is really like, since their religion is defined by what they do.

  88. #88 Rav Winston
    May 12, 2008

    …if you evaluate a whole culture by its criminals, why shouldn’t we evaluate America by Ben Stein and all his court of assholes?

    I do. And I’m an American myself.

  89. #89 Glen Davidsoni
    May 12, 2008

    Before condemning Islam you might like to visit some Islamic communities in Fiji and New Zealand.

    Tell me, maker of fake comparisons, how many Muslims in New Zealand and Fiji actually condemn this BS.

    Religion interacts with other aspects in the culture. The Muslims I know would be just as disgusted by this atrocity.

    How do you say that, when you’re the idiot who’s actually whining that someone here is disgusted by this atrocity? Or are they just better than you, condemning this, while you’re playing the concern troll card?

    Even as a lifelong atheist and full time scientist I am increasingly disinterested in visiting a blog that contains rampant hated speech against a religious ‘enemy’ and stereotype an entire wolrd religion.

    You know, if you weren’t the one guilty of stereotyping, you’d have noticed that he doesn’t like any religion. And if you were at all fair, you’d also notice the rather appalling status of women in Islam, partly due to what is written in the Quran. Rather than deal with actual issues, you just stereotype and lie.

    How is this different to what is done in Expelled and other digusting propagandas of distortion?

    First off, fuckhead, we allow dissenting viewpoints to be aired, such as with Expelled. That’s a freedom valued by real free thinkers, not pretend free thinkers such as yourself. And free speech is uncommon in much of the Muslim world–one reason why the monstrous effects of Islam continue as much as they do.

    Secondly, Expelled was pretty roundly condemned by all but our “Taliban.” That’s the difference, we condemn BS like these “honor killings,” Expelled, and appalling concern trolls such as yourself.

    Glen Davidson
    http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

  90. #90 freelunch
    May 12, 2008

    In other news…

    PZ Myers injects another dose of hate and fear into the world.

    Good job.

    [ACTIVATED: Flame Resistant Zombie Shield]

    My anti-virus tells me that your website was trying to install a trojan, Martin. Indeed, you are an idiot. You are also hateful and a liar. Do you worship ignorance, as well?

  91. #91 Jason Dick
    May 12, 2008

    Emily in #71,

    The Islamic holy literature explicitly proscribes this sort of horrific nonsense. That some Muslims in other areas of the world have moved beyond this is not at all surprising: it’s a horrific practice that normal people everywhere should recognize. But to pretend that it’s not a direct result of their religion is just putting your head in the sand.

  92. #92 noncarborundum
    May 12, 2008

    Astonishingly, he said, police congratulated him on what he had done. ‘They are men and know what honour is,’ he said.

    tlhInganpu’ chaHbe’qu’ loDpu’vam’e’. mu’ {batlh} yajbe’ chaH.

    (These men are certainly not Klingons. They don’t know the meaning of the word “honor”.)

    “Love of God and compassion and empathy leads you to a very glorious place, and science leads you to killing people.” Ben Stein.

    The article says only that Abdel-Qader is a government employee, but I think he is secretly a scientist.

  93. #93 Janine ID
    May 12, 2008

    Warning, do not bother to click Martin’s “home site”.

    Back to the subject at hand. It would seen that Randy Birkey uses his religion to dehumanize others just as the men of the Abdel-Qader family used their religion to dehumanize others.

    The men of the Abdel-Qader family felt they were justified to murder a female family member because she did not act in the way a Muslim woman is supposed to act. Randy Birkey feels justified in accusing atheists of not truly feeling outraged about honor murders. That is because atheists, rejecting god, cannot possibly be fully human and have compassion.

    While the actions of the men in the Abdel-Qader family are much worse then that of Randy Birkey, all engage in a form of thought that strips other people not like them of their humanity.

  94. #94 Martin
    May 12, 2008

    Matt Penfold

    “since their religion is defined by what they do.”

    Ok here you do the math:

    (1 billion muslims)/(number of muslims who kill their children) = how relevant the incident is to islam. Hint: its a small fucking number.

  95. #95 Seamyst
    May 12, 2008

    In partial defense for my comment at #55, I will note that I hadn’t refreshed the page before posting my comment, and thus did not see the five to seven comments immediately preceding mine. As such, and as I’m not a Biblical/Koranic scholar, I didn’t see and wasn’t aware of the passages explicitly condoning this type of behavior. My apologies.

    I was going to then say that one shouldn’t take every single passage in the Bible or Koran as being literal, but then I’d be just as guilty of cherry-picking verses as anyone else, and I don’t like cherry-picking, so I’m going to shut up now.

  96. #96 wÒÓ†
    May 12, 2008
  97. #97 GDwarf
    May 12, 2008

    I am sicked, disgusted, and horrified by this crime.

    But I find blaming Islam for it to be bizarre in the extreme. That is no different than insisting that being an atheist makes you an amoral sociopath, I’m sure I can find amoral, sociopathic atheists without trouble, so it must be cause and effect, right?

    Really, I am growing increasingly troubled by just how eager commenters here are to pin all of the world’s problems on religion. Can religion justify horrible acts? Of course, so can secular humanism. The question isn’t what is justified or condoned, but what lead to this, and religion was obviously not the cause since plenty of Muslims don’t commit murder. Scapegoats serve no purpose save allowing you to feel falsely superior and somehow safer. Feel free to continue, of course, but at the very least stop being hypocritical by insisting that Ben Stein is wrong about “evilutionists”.

  98. #98 Matt Penfold
    May 12, 2008

    Martin,

    One billion people live in Basra do they ?

    I think it is your maths that is screwed buddy, not mine.

    Please provide links to any civil or religious authority in Basra that has condemned this killing. When you have done so I will check, and admit I was wrong if needed. Until then, learn to count.

  99. #99 Glen Davidson
    May 12, 2008

    The Islamic holy literature explicitly proscribes this sort of horrific nonsense. That some Muslims in other areas of the world have moved beyond this is not at all surprising: it’s a horrific practice that normal people everywhere should recognize. But to pretend that it’s not a direct result of their religion is just putting your head in the sand.

    I think you meant “prescribes”.

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

  100. #100 Martin
    May 12, 2008

    Well. Turns out my math sucks after all. Nobody’s perfect.

  101. #101 Clan:Rewired
    May 12, 2008

    @ Emily
    Maybe it is too early for me to say this, but I don’t think we can expect worldwide public and official outcries by the Islamic community, or petitions to get the father and the brothers convicted. Certainly not with so much enthousiasm as with the Danish Cartoons event, the Fitna premiere, Salmon Rushdie etc.
    Correct me if I’m wrong.
    Also I do not wish to promote the idea that there are no Muslim, Islamic people who condemn this crime, I know several that would.

  102. #102 Armchair Dissident
    May 12, 2008

    @ #71,

    Wow. PZ can’t win, can he. If he criticises the behaviour of some Christians, he’s accused of only going after Christians, and ignoring the abhorrent behaviour of some Muslims. If he criticises a Muslim for an action, he’s accused of criticising all Muslims.

    Let’s be quite clear here. Christianity is not a religion of peace, but – self-confessedly – a religion of devision and war. Islam is not a religion of peace, but a religion of division and war.

    That does not mean that all modern Christians are hate-mongers or that all modern Muslims are hate-mongers. But violent Christians, and violent Muslims can both find ample support for their position in their respective “Holy” books.

    My fiancée lived, for quite a long time, in Dubai. Most people in Dubai are Muslim and she can genuinely claim that most of her friends were – at the time – Muslim; and she has pointed out to me that there Islam for the most part is about as relevant to their lives as Church of England is to most people in the UK. They’re Muslim because thats what they are. These are the genuinely “moderate” Muslims; they go through the motions, but don’t really care about religion (although they almost universally don’t eat Pork, which isn’t that strange when you consider the reaction of most people in the UK to the suggestion that they should eat dogs).

    But just as there are religious zealots in the UK and the US, there are religious zealots in the Middle East. The difference is that in some areas of the Middle East that fanaticism has become part of the institution.

    A man has killed his daughter because of insane religious convictions that are apparently held by his brothers and the police in Basra. That is a serious problem, and one which demands condemnation. Condemning that action is no more commenting on all Muslims than condemning Cardinal O’Conner is commenting on the position of all Catholics.

  103. #103 Michelle
    May 12, 2008

    I don’t think I can add anything to what has been said.

    The man is sick. And sicker are the people who don’t arrest him for his crime. A hateful, disgusting crime.

    If their god existed out of their imagination he should be ashamed of the fuckers he gave birth to.

  104. #104 Coriolis
    May 12, 2008

    Ok, let’s just cut this idiotic PC crap:

    Religion is to blame, not because some freaking insane father+brothers killed his own daughter, but because the religious society he lives in not only did not condemn his actions but the police their actually CONGRATULATED him. OK?How hard is that to understand?

    Let’s make a simple analogy, if a white serial killer in the US kills a bunch of black people that doesn’t mean all white people are crazy racist killers. If as a society we condone that behavior and the police congratulate the guy instead of sticking him in jail then we would be a racist evil society with serious fucking problems.

    Now, do you get it?

  105. #105 Calladus
    May 12, 2008

    Christians and Muslims tend to be moral in spite of their religion, not because of it.

  106. #106 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    May 12, 2008

    That is no different than insisting that being an atheist makes you an amoral sociopath, I’m sure I can find amoral, sociopathic atheists without trouble, so it must be cause and effect, right?

    No, because being an atheist there isn’t some rulebook that says we should be amoral or sociopathic.

  107. #107 sailor
    May 12, 2008

    “Is there any possible evolutionary advantage that a gene line can accrue by culling its young females early? (I know I’m mangling the terminology here, I’m not a biologist) I’ve heard of the way male cats will kill off the young of other males; could there be some kind of underlying reason behind this? It seems to me that letting religious and cultural fuckbaggery chop off a whole branch of your genetic legacy is the evolutionary acme of stupid, no?”

    Marcus, the answer is no. And this makes it interesting because the honor killing of close relatives definitely would not be predicted by evolutionary theory. At the very outside limit you could try and explain it in terms of the benefits of patriarchy, but even that is a push because patriarchy is possible without honor killing. So there must be other factors at work. As you can also imagine the tendency to smaller families is hardly predictable by evolutionary theory either.
    When the human brain became capable of being programmed by language and culture, then you have to look for roots of behavior in history, sociology and psychology rather than just inheritance. The idea of Memes (information replicating itself through humans) is one way to look at it, but the theorists have not really beaten out that idea well enough to be useful for making predictions yet.

  108. #108 noncarborundum
    May 12, 2008

    GDwarf:

    Can religion justify horrible acts? Of course, so can secular humanism.

    Of course that’s easy to say, but can you support it? Name a horrible act committed by a secular humanist and then demonstrate how the tenets of secular humanism contributed to that act or can be used to justify it.

    religion was obviously not the cause since plenty of Muslims don’t commit murder.

    Right. And driving drunk is obviously not the cause of any given accident, since plenty of people drive under the influence without causing accidents.

  109. #109 F. Jardim
    May 12, 2008

    Wow, this got acrimonious fast.

    In my view, one of religions many flaws is that it offers a good (well, not good but acceptable to the like-minded) cover for a number of terrible deeds. So, while only a minority of believers will go the extreme of killing a daughter, refusing blood transfusions or praying for cures rather than going to the hospital, a -far- larger number will look favorably upon the deed because it is divinely justified.

    Over time, this builds severe distortions in a society, especially when no parallel, countering influences are being exercised.

    It’s not unlike racism as it happens here in Brazil. Perhaps 10% will openly claim to disliking black or jewish people. Another 30% more will silently nod their heads when in non-mixed company because hey, they got mugged by a brown person once or denied a job by a jew. The remaining 60% is wary of alienating/infuriating the bigot minority and the accomplice subgroup, and it gets ingrained in a society for ages.

  110. #110 mezzobuff
    May 12, 2008

    “Before condemning Islam you might like to visit some Islamic communities in Fiji and New Zealand. Religion interacts with other aspects in the culture. The Muslims I know would be just as disgusted by this atrocity.”

    Like Aegis in #8, I am waiting to hear from these communities… where are the Islamic moderates when these atrocious acts happen? Why don’t they speak up? Ultimately, doesn’t their silence make them complicit? Emily, you may want to listen to the Point of Inquiry podcast with Tawfik Hamid (My life as a terrorist: 3/16/07)… interesting when he goes into what silence expresses/means in Islamic culture…

  111. #111 BlueIndependent
    May 12, 2008

    @ #87:

    I certainly hope you apply that logic when Christians are involved.

  112. #112 Christianjb
    May 12, 2008

    I challenge anyone to think of another social force apart from religion which could make a parent willingly and gladly murder his own daughter and then brag about it afterwards.

    Of course, most Muslims would be horrified at this act, but it is still a testament to the power that religion can hold over some people’s minds.

    As Dawkins has pointed out- the 9/11 hijackers actually thought they were being good people when they flew their planes into the WTC. They were trying to do right by their religion.

  113. #113 Matt Penfold
    May 12, 2008

    “Well. Turns out my math sucks after all. Nobody’s perfect.”

    At least you admit you were wrong. Well done.

    If only the father would have done the same, instead of clinging to his belief that he was doing his god’s work.

  114. #114 NC Paul
    May 12, 2008

    Well said there at #102

    And if I can add something, what this episode gives lie to is the idea put forward by religious apologists that religion somehow makes people moral.

    It’s possible that Abdel-Qader Ali might have killed his daughter even if he wasn’t a Muslim. But being a Muslim certainly didn’t prevent him from acting immorally.

    If anything, it is the opposite. His religion provided a justification for his actions, along with the rubber stamp of the alleged will of the almighty.

    This story is the proof of Steven Weinberg’s oft quoted saw:

    “With or without religion, good people can behave well and bad people can do evil; but for good people to do evil — that takes religion”.

  115. #115 Glen Davidson
    May 12, 2008

    I am sicked, disgusted, and horrified by this crime.

    Then why aren’t you attacking the cause of it, instead of the opposition to it? Moron, did you think you’re hypocrisy isn’t obvious?

    But I find blaming Islam for it to be bizarre in the extreme.

    Uh, yeah, something that is taught by that religion, doesn’t exist as such in many other religions, and certainly doesn’t exist as a moral code of conduct in secular society, is bizarrely associated with that religion. My God, you’d suppose that we can think via correlation and causation, which obviously you cannot, dickhead.

    That is no different than insisting that being an atheist makes you an amoral sociopath, I’m sure I can find amoral, sociopathic atheists without trouble, so it must be cause and effect, right?

    Dipshit, is amorality or sociopathy either preached by atheism, or written into some “holy writ” of atheism? Learn what an honest comparison is, or STFU.

    Really, I am growing increasingly troubled by just how eager commenters here are to pin all of the world’s problems on religion.

    Really? So you think that commenters here blame religion for general crime in the US, or the problems of China? Get a grip on reality, fuckwit. We blame religion for problems caused by religion. You just blither stupidly on without understanding religious causes for religious atrocities, or even secular causes for many secular atrocities and crimes.

    Can religion justify horrible acts? Of course, so can secular humanism.

    Examples, lackwit.

    More importantly, we’re not talking here about “justifying” anything, we’re talking about religious sensibilities leading to this act.

    The question isn’t what is justified or condoned, but what lead to this, and religion was obviously not the cause since plenty of Muslims don’t commit murder.

    Yeah, there you are. That’s the intelligence of your line of “thinking.”

    Anti-Semitism didn’t lead most people to violent acts against the Jews, but it damn sure was part of what led to the Holocaust. Demented retard.

    Scapegoats serve no purpose save allowing you to feel falsely superior and somehow safer.

    That’s right, ass. That’s why you’re scapegoating others for what was caused at least in part by an evil religion in Iraq.

    Feel free to continue, of course, but at the very least stop being hypocritical by insisting that Ben Stein is wrong about “evilutionists”.

    You know, if you wanted us to accept anything you write you’d at least come up with one logical progression to your lame “conclusions”.

    Stein is wrong about “evilutionists” because of his morally deficient religious sensibilities (which appear to be shared by few American Jews, which I say simply because extremely few American Jews have agreed with him, hence I argue from the evidence), and these people also were wrong due at least in part to their morally deficient religious sensibilities. Unfortunately, at least a large minority of their co-religionists in Iraq agree with these murderers (and so do you, effectively), which is why the point about the police officers congratulating the guys was brought out.

    That’s an aspect of this that you lie about by omission, a-hole.

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

  116. #116 Jason Dick
    May 12, 2008

    GDwarf in #97,

    I am sicked, disgusted, and horrified by this crime.

    But I find blaming Islam for it to be bizarre in the extreme. That is no different than insisting that being an atheist makes you an amoral sociopath, I’m sure I can find amoral, sociopathic atheists without trouble, so it must be cause and effect, right?

    Why don’t you? Why not go ahead and compare the percentage of atheists that murder their children to the percentage of Muslims who do? I can pretty much guarantee you that the Muslims will win by a monstrous amount.

    Now, as to the religion itself being a cause, it’s really not that heard to see: [b]their holy book fucking tells them to[/b]. It’s exactly as Calladus in #105 said: they’re moral in spite of their religion.

    Oh, and by the way, this is the sort of thing that can’t be hugely common. If it were, Islam would cease to be.

  117. #117 Michelle
    May 12, 2008

    if there are truly temperate muslims out there, COME OUT STRONG!

    Silence makes you criminals as well. Yea. I said it. YOU’RE ALL WOMEN HATING MURDERERS DUE TO YOUR SILENCE. You don’t condemn it, you’re part of it. Where are the religious leaders of so called temperate muslims? Why aren’t they out in the media screaming their lungs out?

    Don’t give me any of that “before condemning go see the moderate ones” crap. Silence is not golden.

  118. #118 Gustav Nyström
    May 12, 2008

    Calladus @85,

    “It’s an interesting argument – untestable of course.”

    Ah, the religidiots favorite kind.

  119. #119 Calladus
    May 12, 2008

    Can religion justify horrible acts? Of course, so can secular humanism.

    I’m absolutely fascinated. Please, tell us all which horrible acts are justified by Secular Humanism?

    I’m expecting something like the condoning of murder, rape, theft, something big – something of “biblical proportions”.

  120. #120 CalGeorge
    May 12, 2008

    “Death was the least she deserved.”

    What else did he have in mind? Torture?

    What a fucked-up, misogynistic, backward culture.

  121. #121 gingerbeard
    May 12, 2008

    The older I get and the more exposed I become to these delights of religion the more intolerant of any form of religious behaviour I become.

    The “extremists” are not extreme at all, but are observant of their religious texts, the “moderates” are moderating their religion with modern cultural morals, going against the very teachings they supposedly defending. In reality any moderate religious person is just practicing self delusion.

    I first saw the evil of religion when my Catholic aunt said it was a shame my protestant grandmother was going to hell (because she was not catholic).

    I have seen few acts of great good that were performed in the name of god that could not have been performed in the name of humanity and compassion, without the need for a deity.

    I have seen precious few acts of utter evil performed in the name of god that could have been defended in the name of compassion and humanity.

    This is yet another act of utter evil justified by believing in a magic sky fairy, and the sad thing is he was right to do it according to his beliefs.

    That point alone, that any religion can justify inhumane actions as correct and righteous is the argument that religion is a dangerous self delusional evil.

    PZ is not instilling hate, and the intolerance this community expresses regarding the actions of the religious are the only appropriate response.

    This mans actions were horrific, but well within the normal behaviour expected by his god, and the teachings of all those who worship the same god, Muslim, Jew, or Christian.

    Why would any thinking person find it acceptable to tolerate these teachings? So the moderates are deluding themselves in thinking their sense of good comes from their god, and the whole belief system is being recognized as something that should not be tolerated by this community.

    I hope this helps Emily understand the difference between the comments on this blog and elsewhere, and Expelled. In Expelled they are distorting the facts, here we are reacting to the distortion of values that calls itself religion.

  122. #122 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    May 12, 2008

    I blame the New Kids on the Block reunion on Secular Humanists.

  123. #123 Ryan Egesdahl
    May 12, 2008

    Call me strange, but I don’t hold the opinion that religion is the cause of so many evils in society. To me, it’s always people choosing to believe something and acting in accordance with belief.

    Yes, that’s nearly the definition of religion, but the point is that I focus on people and not any set of beliefs. These people are just plain fucked up anyway, and their religion is only reinforcing that. Then they commit the ultimate wrong and pass fucked-up beliefs on to their children. Visitation of the sins of the father on the sons indeed.

    The point? I don’t care to which religion someone ascribes – I will hold that person up to a standard of behavior independent of any religion. If someone murders his child for any reason – and that means even the understandable ones – then that person is, as PZ puts it, a demented fuckwit.

    THAT, Randal Birkey, is what atheists mean when we say we judge someone by a moral standard independent of God. Despite what you may believe, it is possible. And if you actually read that “Holy” book you cherish so, you would understand that your make-believe God is horrible in the morals department. I wouldn’t claim to get my morals from such a being, and that is precisely why I stopped doing so. Even God has to be held responsible for past acts, and his record is worse than some of the most disturbing murderers humankind has ever produced; this is ESPECIALLY true if you say God is unchanging.

    But then, those of us who realize that any God and any religion are make-believe will also realize that any disgusting acts God is said to have done are at the very least the fantasies of his worshippers, if not the actual deeds. The fact that you want to defend your religion so much doesn’t speak well of your moral character, Mr. Birkey. Not at all. If I were you I would take a serious look at my religion.

  124. #124 Lee Brimmicombe-Wood
    May 12, 2008

    I notice Peter hasn’t appeared to tell us we were all too PC to criticize Islamic mores. I’d better bookmark this to beat him senseless should he show his face again.

  125. #125 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    May 12, 2008

    Yes, that’s nearly the definition of religion, but the point is that I focus on people and not any set of beliefs. These people are just plain fucked up anyway, and their religion is only reinforcing that. Then they commit the ultimate wrong and pass fucked-up beliefs on to their children. Visitation of the sins of the father on the sons indeed.

    How many of this people would act like this without their chosen religion telling them it is ok?

  126. #126 CortxVortx
    May 12, 2008

    Re: #22

    What is the source of that shared standard you are appealing to me to agree with you based on?

    “Shared”? You share your view with Abdel-Qader Ali & Co, who based their actions on the absolute morality of God.

    How do you defend yourself, birk?

  127. #127 Matt Penfold
    May 12, 2008

    “I certainly hope you apply that logic when Christians are involved.”

    I apply it all religions.

    I judge them not on what they are supposed to do, if one takes a benign and liberal view on what their holy texts say, but on what they actually do. And in this case it is to kill their daughters for having crush and congratulating the killer rather than putting them on trial.

    Why do people refuse to believe this man when he gives his reasons for killing his daughter ? He has told us, after all, that the did it because that his what he believed his god wanted him to do. Now that could be consider the actions of a deranged man, had the authorities punished him. The fact that they congratulated him, and clearly considered that he acted correctly tells us that this is no one off event.

  128. #128 Glen Davidson
    May 12, 2008

    Anti-Semitism didn’t lead most people to violent acts against the Jews, but it damn sure was part of what led to the Holocaust. Demented retard.

    Or actually, anti-Semitism is the only known necessary condition leading to Auschwitz. Contrary to the religious lies of Expelled, which are comparable only to the lies of religious leading to this murder, as well as the lies of the concernt trolls on this thread.

    Glen Davidson
    http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

  129. #129 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    May 12, 2008

    bah, I botched the blockquote tag above.

  130. #130 Disciple of "Bob"
    May 12, 2008

    Somewhere, Chris Hedges is going through all sorts of Olympian mental gymnastics in order to come up with a way to blame this on “western racism” and make Islam out to be the REAL victim here.

  131. #131 Brownian, OM
    May 12, 2008

    Here’s a solution for this and other issues that plague Iraq: Muslim women, for the sake of everyone concerned, please stop giving birth to men. Abort ‘em, toss ‘em out into the desert sun, poison their milk, or strangle ‘em with their own umbilicals, do what you have to, but please stop producing more fodder for the stupidity of their fathers.

    If Yahweh-too-tired would get off his fucking ass and do his own dirty work like he used to, we wouldn’t have to put up with this shit.

  132. #132 cl
    May 12, 2008

    I agree with you here PZ. That is an example of religious “freedom” that should be barred from practice in my opinion.

    Win some, lose some.

  133. #133 Dutch Delight
    May 12, 2008

    Iraq used to be one of the most secular countries in the Middle East. That oversight is now fixed.

    I agree, although it’s not like the Iraqi people went that route by themselves, it was a necessity because the few were ruling the many with foreign (US, some EU states) assistance which they relied on in accordance with the principals of imperialism.

    Then, somehow, the puppet got uncontrollable (oil for Euro’s, bad move Saddam!). Even though Iraqi diplomats had pretty much offered surrender before the invasion to Richard Perle, using that opportunity to build a stable, free and democratic state without chaos or large scale loss of life wasn’t good enough. Someone decided it was worth a couple of thousand American lives to first *create* chaos and then “clean it up” until they’ve “won”. It’s a bit of a high price, but then this was the only way to make sure the Iraqi’s would sell their oil, development and exploration contracts to the right people for the right price.

    Still waiting for the candidates to discuss how they will deal with this treason.

  134. #134 Ranger Jay
    May 12, 2008

    Isn’t it funny how much of religious fervor involves males saving face?

    Well, I guess “funny” isn’t the right word…

  135. #135 Hematite
    May 12, 2008

    Matt Penfold (#83) and emily (#71):

    Emily is saying that we shouldn’t judge all muslims by the actions of fundamentalist lunatics in Iraq, the same way we shouldn’t judge all Christians by the actions of nutjob creationists in the US. She is not being an apologist for these crimes. Where I live there are (cute) muslim students who wear head scarves along with their tight jeans and sleeveless tops. It’s a different kind of Islam, and whether you still oppose it or not it’s ridiculous to blindly equate it with fundamentalist honour killings.

  136. #136 Planeten Paultje
    May 12, 2008

    This guy killed his daughter with resolute dedication and is mighty proud of what he has done. Countless others slaughter their own every day, unseen by the world, taking inspiration from the exact same mindset.

    I wonder, if they can murder their own flesh and blood that easily, how easy would it be for them to murder complete strangers?

  137. #137 Matt Penfold
    May 12, 2008

    “Emily is saying that we shouldn’t judge all muslims by the actions of fundamentalist lunatics in Iraq, the same way we shouldn’t judge all Christians by the actions of nutjob creationists in the US. She is not being an apologist for these crimes. Where I live there are (cute) muslim students who wear head scarves along with their tight jeans and sleeveless tops. It’s a different kind of Islam, and whether you still oppose it or not it’s ridiculous to blindly equate it with fundamentalist honour killings.”

    It is not the kind of Islam that is to be found in Basra, which is the whole point. Emily either cannot or will not understand that point. I would note though that condemnation from Islamic leaders around the world seems to be conspicuous by its absence. Had following the reporting of this killing two weeks ago there been an outpouring of condemnation from Muslims, and especially Muslim clerics, from around the world, and particularly from within Iraq then this criticism would have some validity. Sadly there seems to not have been any such condemnation.

  138. #138 NC Paul
    May 12, 2008

    Hematite,

    And I believe that Matt P.’s point is that if these moderate Muslims are so outraged (and I’m certain they genuinely are), they should express it, because the actions of these demented fundamentalists are blackening the name of their faith.

    If a few cartoons in a Danish newspaper can cause riots across the Islamic world, then shouldn’t the barbaric murder of an innocent young woman raise an even greater storm of protest?

    Or do these moderates care more about the dignity of their prophet (who’s been dead for over a millennium) than they do about the actual life (and death) of a young woman?

    Same goes for moderate Christians, Jews, Hindus – if extremists are committing atrocities in the name of your faith, it’s your duty to call them out on it.

  139. #139 Glen Davidson
    May 12, 2008

    It’s a different kind of Islam, and whether you still oppose it or not it’s ridiculous to blindly equate it with fundamentalist honour killings.

    Did anybody “blindly equate” the two?

    Penfold wrote “that a fundamentalist form of Islam is at the heart of what is wrong.”

    How about dealing with some issues, instead of dispensing stale platitudes? I know you concern trolls feel stunningly righteous, the trouble is that you’re not, you’re simply playing an us-vs.-them blame game .

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

  140. #140 Greg Peterson
    May 12, 2008

    Honor killings (and misogyny in general) are a special concern of (atheist) Joss Whedon, and his fans have taken up the cause. To consider doing something practical on the issue, please see: http://nothingbutred.wordpress.com/

    http://www.equalitynow.org/english/index.html

    http://www.whedon.info/Joss-Whedon-Nothing-But-Red.html

  141. #141 Jason Dick
    May 12, 2008

    Hematite #135,

    The problem is that these “cute muslim students who wear head scarves along with their tight jeans and sleeveless tops” are part of the problem: they may not practice this sort of horrific nonsense, but they condone it, or at least are not outspoken against it. They are become monsters because of their religion because they are unwilling to criticize their own religion.

  142. #142 Matt Penfold
    May 12, 2008

    To go further with my last point.

    If there is a problem within an institution then the first people who have a duty to sort out that problem are fellow members of that institution. Thus is a doctor performs acts that amount to professional misconduct there is a duty on other doctors to hold him to account. Likewise within a religion, if some members of that religion behave improperly, then the first people who should act are his co-religionists.

    This is also a major criticism of those who attack Dawkins, PZ et al for being to outspoken in their condemnation of creationism (and other excesses of Christianity) saying it alienates moderate Christians. What these people fail to realise is that had the moderate Christians being doing their jobs properly then there would be no need for Dawkins, PZ et al to be so outspoken. But since the moderate Christians seem so reluctant to sort out their more fundamentalist co-religionists then other must.

  143. #143 Alex
    May 12, 2008

    Enjoy crusading against the evil culture of Islam. PZ’s post was mildly concerning to me, though, in my view, generally justified given the heinous nature of this crime. I found it largely to be a dehumanizing portrayal of an entire culture. The responses to Emily’s (71) post were fairly hate-filled and hostile to even the idea of liberal Muslims.

    This is particularly true of Glen Davidson’s (89) response in which he accuses Emily of implicitly condoning these acts by not showing the proper disgust and falling in line.

    Michelle’s (117) requirement that all temperate Muslims come out strong on this or be considered women-hating murderers was also moderately disturbing. It’s ridiculous to expect people who scarcely identify with the group that perpetrated this action to somehow take responsibility for it and be required to prove their objection.

    Which somewhat brings me to the point that I feel is missing. Which is that Muslims aren’t a unified front and Muslim cultures are, like all cultures, constantly in flux with both liberal and conservative elements. Condemning the entire Arabic world and Muslims at large is essentially the same rhetoric I’d expect to see in calls for a religious crusade. Aegis’s (8) post even bemoans that Bush didn’t call for an outright war on Islam rather than what he did.

    This event is certainly tragic and an example of the dangers of conservative religious control of government and the imposition of divine law as secular law but the portrayal of an entire part of the Earth as barbarians is simplistic and ridiculous. I would hope that people reasonable enough to reject ridiculous religious dogma would be able to think rationally but I guess that’s a bit too much to hope for. Enjoy flaming me.

  144. #144 Alex
    May 12, 2008

    Enjoy crusading against the evil culture of Islam. PZ’s post was mildly concerning to me, though, in my view, generally justified given the heinous nature of this crime. I found it largely to be a dehumanizing portrayal of an entire culture. The responses to Emily’s (71) post were fairly hate-filled and hostile to even the idea of liberal Muslims.

    This is particularly true of Glen Davidson’s (89) response in which he accuses Emily of implicitly condoning these acts by not showing the proper disgust and falling in line.

    Michelle’s (117) requirement that all temperate Muslims come out strong on this or be considered women-hating murderers was also moderately disturbing. It’s ridiculous to expect people who scarcely identify with the group that perpetrated this action to somehow take responsibility for it and be required to prove their objection.

    Which somewhat brings me to the point that I feel is missing. Which is that Muslims aren’t a unified front and Muslim cultures are, like all cultures, constantly in flux with both liberal and conservative elements. Condemning the entire Arabic world and Muslims at large is essentially the same rhetoric I’d expect to see in calls for a religious crusade. Aegis’s (8) post even bemoans that Bush didn’t call for an outright war on Islam rather than what he did.

    This event is certainly tragic and an example of the dangers of conservative religious control of government and the imposition of divine law as secular law but the portrayal of an entire part of the Earth as barbarians is simplistic and ridiculous. I would hope that people reasonable enough to reject ridiculous religious dogma would be able to think rationally but I guess that’s a bit too much to hope for. Enjoy flaming me.

  145. #145 Serjis Werking
    May 12, 2008

    Honor my whimsy and grind him to a paste and feed it to pigs.

  146. #146 jeh
    May 12, 2008

    Unfortunately this vile practice predates Islam: Women + children = property. But that this hideously evil idea is not repudiated by all Muslims is inexcusable.

    But before Christians get all holier than thou on this point–many fundamentalist Christians likewise treat divorced women and unmarried mothers as damaged goods, perceiving them as having an insatiable lust that trips up “godly” men. I would not have believe this sort of insanity unless I had actually heard it articulated–several times in the churches that I grew up in.

    Newt: My mommy always said there were no monsters – no real ones – but there are.
    Ripley: Yes, there are, aren’t there?
    Newt: Why do they tell little kids that?
    Ripley: Most of the time it’s true.

  147. #147 Marcus Ranum
    May 12, 2008

    tony writes:
    Islam today is where christianity was in the middle ages… so should we expect anything other than medieval behaviors?

    Uh, yes – because they’re surrounded by the rest of the world, which is firmly rooted in the 21st century.

  148. #148 Hematite
    May 12, 2008

    Oop, guess I shouldn’t have ignored the thread for an hour before I replied. A more nuanced comment is required.

    I am very conscious of the separation between muslim culture and muslim theology. If all the muslims suddenly stopped believing in Allah, there would still be groups with the kind of fucked up culture which led to this killing, they would simply justify it as tradition rather than religion. On the other hand, you can take muslim theology and transplant it to a western culture and it becomes as innocuous as moderate Chrisitianity. To say that Islam is the enemy is to conflate the two aspects which is overly simplistic and leads to alienating moderate elements who should really be allies in the fight against fundamentalism.

  149. #149 Dutch Delight
    May 12, 2008

    Apart from the concert-trollish element:

    It’s ridiculous to expect people who scarcely identify with the group that perpetrated this action to somehow take responsibility for it and be required to prove their objection.

    I think most readers would settle for the local community/government. But i guess it’s easier to pretend and dismiss that your opponents are calling for every single muslim on this planet to fill in a form.

  150. #150 Ryan Egesdahl
    May 12, 2008

    How many of this people would act like this without their chosen religion telling them it is ok?

    That’s actually the point I was making, if I wasn’t clear about it. I’m getting at the fact that these people are weak-minded and would accept anyone with “religious authority” telling them to do something. Hence my problem with their morals. There are plenty of religious people who do not fall under this category (and I know a few). Of course, people who practice religion tend to produce weak-minded children who also follow it, but the cause of religion would be weak-minded people accepting authority in the first place, to my mind.

  151. #151 Elyse
    May 12, 2008

    The mother left the man because she said she could no longer learn to live with her beloved daughters murderer.

  152. #152 PeteKay
    May 12, 2008

    Yet another ugly reminder of how religion can be twisted and abused to justify disgusting behaviour, and yet another reason why we shouldn’t invade other people’s countries…

  153. #153 Matt Penfold
    May 12, 2008

    “Michelle’s (117) requirement that all temperate Muslims come out strong on this or be considered women-hating murderers was also moderately disturbing. It’s ridiculous to expect people who scarcely identify with the group that perpetrated this action to somehow take responsibility for it and be required to prove their objection.”

    You need to make up your mind.

    If temperate Muslims do not identify with the perpetrators of this sort of crime then why would they identify themselves are being part of the culture condemned by PZ ? If people though do want to identify themselves as Muslim then they cannot avoid being identified with some of the worst aspects of Islam, as well as some of the best.

    Membership of an institution carries responsibilities, and one of those is policing the actions of others member of that institution. I know that a Muslim in the west may not be able to do much of a practical nature to protect women in Iraq, except be vocal in support of their rights and make in clear to the co-religionists they do not act in their name. If they are unwilling to even to do that then they must accept the condemnation of the beliefs that lead to killings such as this.

    To give an example. If I was a Catholic and felt that the Catholic position on birth control was wrong I would have some choices. I could cease being a Catholic or I could remain a Catholic but speak out against the teaching, or I could do nothing. If I chose to do nothing I then have no moral authority to complain about those who condemn the Catholic position on contraception.

  154. #154 Alex
    May 12, 2008

    Dutch Delight in #149:

    I was actually responding to a specific comment by Michelle, which, unless I drastically misread it, was calling for exactly that. The constant skepticism of the very existence of moderate Muslims that Emily (71) had cited was another part of what I was responding to that I felt Michelle’s comment brought most succinctly, though certainly in a more extreme manner than everyone who comment likely intended.

    If by being a concert (I assume concern) troll, you mean that I’m concerned about being swept up by hateful quasi-religious anti-Muslim ideology, then okay.

    Sorry about the double post before.

  155. #155 Matt Penfold
    May 12, 2008

    “On the other hand, you can take muslim theology and transplant it to a western culture and it becomes as innocuous as moderate Chrisitianity.”

    If only that were true.

    Sadly event in London have proven you to be wrong.

  156. #157 Dale Husband
    May 12, 2008

    The third is one only briefly mentioned: the mother, Leila Hussein. I wonder…does her skin crawl at having to submit to the vile creature who tortured her daughter to death, or is she sufficiently indoctrinated into the evils of her culture that she accepts it? Either way, it’s a nightmare.

    I guess you didn’t read the whole article, PZ. Here’s your answer from it:
    Rand’s mother, 41, remains in hiding after divorcing her husband in the immediate aftermath of the killing, living in fear of retribution from his family. She also still bears the scars of the severe beating he inflicted on her, breaking her arm in the process, when she told him she was going. ‘They cannot accept me leaving him. When I first left I went to a cousin’s home, but every day they were delivering notes to my door saying I was a prostitute and deserved the same death as Rand,’ she said.

    ‘She was killed by animals. Every night when go to bed I remember the face of Rand calling for help while her father and brothers ended her life,’ she said, tears streaming down her face.

    She was nervous, clearly terrified of being found, and her eyes constantly turned towards the window as she spoke….’Even now, I cannot believe my ex-husband was able to kill our daughter. He wasn’t a bad person. During our 24 years of marriage, he was never aggressive. But on that day, he was a different person.’

    The mother is now trying to raise enough money to escape abroad. ‘I miss my two boys,’ she said. ‘But they have sent a message saying that I am wrong for defending Rand and that I should go back home and live like a blessed Muslim woman,’ said Leila, who is now volunteering with a local organisation campaigning for better protection for women in Basra.

    Rand’s mother used to call her ‘Rose’. ‘That was my nickname for her because when she was born she was so beautiful,’ she said.

    ‘Now, my lovely Rose is in her grave. But, God will make her father pay, either in this world … or in the world after.’

  157. #158 Glen Davidson
    May 12, 2008

    Enjoy crusading against the evil culture of Islam. PZ’s post was mildly concerning to me, though, in my view, generally justified given the heinous nature of this crime. I found it largely to be a dehumanizing portrayal of an entire culture.

    Yet you can’t speak to any specifics, you’re just whining. What an idiot.

    The responses to Emily’s (71) post were fairly hate-filled and hostile to even the idea of liberal Muslims.

    Blank assertion. You really are stupid and self-righteous.

    This is particularly true of Glen Davidson’s (89) response in which he accuses Emily of implicitly condoning these acts by not showing the proper disgust and falling in line.

    If you weren’t a lying asshole, I’m sure you’d back that up. But you can’t, you’re just a vile fuckwit. Libel is all that you have, since you don’t even care about what is written, just wanting to be self-righteously above others.

    Find anything in my post that indicated that I accused her for “implicitly condoning” the crime. You can’t, or you already would have. But here it is, just in case you want to try to be honest, instead of a vile liar supporting other vile liars:

    Before condemning Islam you might like to visit some Islamic communities in Fiji and New Zealand.

    Tell me, maker of fake comparisons, how many Muslims in New Zealand and Fiji actually condemn this BS.

    Religion interacts with other aspects in the culture. The Muslims I know would be just as disgusted by this atrocity.

    How do you say that, when you’re the idiot who’s actually whining that someone here is disgusted by this atrocity? Or are they just better than you, condemning this, while you’re playing the concern troll card?

    Even as a lifelong atheist and full time scientist I am increasingly disinterested in visiting a blog that contains rampant hated speech against a religious ‘enemy’ and stereotype an entire wolrd religion.

    You know, if you weren’t the one guilty of stereotyping, you’d have noticed that he doesn’t like any religion. And if you were at all fair, you’d also notice the rather appalling status of women in Islam, partly due to what is written in the Quran. Rather than deal with actual issues, you just stereotype and lie.

    How is this different to what is done in Expelled and other digusting propagandas of distortion?

    First off, fuckhead, we allow dissenting viewpoints to be aired, such as with Expelled. That’s a freedom valued by real free thinkers, not pretend free thinkers such as yourself. And free speech is uncommon in much of the Muslim world–one reason why the monstrous effects of Islam continue as much as they do.

    Secondly, Expelled was pretty roundly condemned by all but our “Taliban.” That’s the difference, we condemn BS like these “honor killings,” Expelled, and appalling concern trolls such as yourself.

    I know, you wrote “implicitly” because you think that excuses your dishonesty. Well, it doesn’t, you’re just a perverted moronic liar.

    Michelle’s (117) requirement that all temperate Muslims come out strong on this or be considered women-hating murderers was also moderately disturbing. It’s ridiculous to expect people who scarcely identify with the group that perpetrated this action to somehow take responsibility for it and be required to prove their objection.

    Other religions condemn atrocities done in the name of their religion. It’s only reasonable, even if it’s just in order to avoid possibly unfair comparison. But then it becomes a standard, and when religions don’t condemn atrocity in their name, one has to wonder why.

    You’re using double scales here, like the thoroughgoing liar that you proven to be.

    Which somewhat brings me to the point that I feel is missing. Which is that Muslims aren’t a unified front and Muslim cultures are, like all cultures, constantly in flux with both liberal and conservative elements.

    Now the truly dull platitudes, from the truly dull liar.

    Of course you ignore all of our qualifiers, but that’s expected from an egregious liar like yourself.

    Condemning the entire Arabic world and Muslims at large is essentially the same rhetoric I’d expect to see in calls for a religious crusade. Aegis’s (8) post even bemoans that Bush didn’t call for an outright war on Islam rather than what he did.

    And most refrained from condemning the entire Arabic world and Muslims at large. But then truth has never been something you knew how to handle.

    This event is certainly tragic and an example of the dangers of conservative religious control of government and the imposition of divine law as secular law but the portrayal of an entire part of the Earth as barbarians is simplistic and ridiculous.

    Which is why you constructed that straw whore yourself, are fucking it, and blaming everyone else for you paying for your sex with it.

    I would hope that people reasonable enough to reject ridiculous religious dogma would be able to think rationally but I guess that’s a bit too much to hope for.

    Actually, what’s too much to ask is for a single supported statement from you, as you condemn sans evidence, and you stereotype in the manner that others did not.

    Enjoy flaming me.

    I don’t enjoy it, I do it because you’re a fuckwitted lying asshole, as well demonstrated in your donkey intelligence and fundamentalist-like dishonesty. That ought never to be let by without flames.

    Learn how to make an argument, moron, and learn some honesty, and then come back. I’m sure you won’t have either intelligence or honesty for at least a decade, since your post was completely devoid of either one.

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

  158. #159 Alex
    May 12, 2008

    #153:

    I certainly agree that group membership can carry responsibilities but I have several objections. The first pertains to the idea that Muslims aren’t a unified group and that moderate or liberal Muslims may very well not even religiously identify with these people any more than a Lutheran identifies with a Catholic.

    Second, I agree that I moderates ought to speak out, but I only disagree that if they don’t do so they’re women-hating murderers.

  159. #160 SteveM
    May 12, 2008

    #119:
    I’m absolutely fascinated. Please, tell us all which horrible acts are justified by Secular Humanism?

    My guess at their answer would be “abortion and euthenasia”.

  160. #161 Moses
    May 12, 2008

    I think your commonly-held belief, like many commonly-held beliefs, is incorrect. I believe a better understanding of honor killings is to not view the sad practice as a religious practice (despite the hype), but as a social-practice that isn’t tied to religion, per se.

    Honor killings, which are now exceedingly rare in Western Civilization, are still common in Arab and Mediterranean countries as well as South East Asia (this includes China). Muslims do commit honor killings, but so do Christians, Druze, Hindus, Sikhs, and other religious affiliations, possibly including atheism, in these areas. Without religion as a common denominator, we have to look at the societies structure. Even if the country may be nominally democratic, or whatever, there is common factor – a feudal social structure.

    It should be no surprise to learn that honor killings were part-and-parcel of feudal Europe. As Europe became enlightened (over many, many generations) honor killings subsided. Christianity (which was the dominant religion by that time) had previously exculpated the killings by picking-and-choosing from the religious texts to support the actions. When society decided that honor killings were wrong, and punishable, the dominant religion suddenly found new texts by which to endorse not killing.

    Anyone who would profess surprise by the change, and would argue that it was really always that way, is ignoring that all religions, including fundamentalist Christianity, Islam, etc., are “cafeteria” in practice — that is, what and which particular parts and practices of the religion are utilized in a manner that are really a reflection of the current culture in which the religion finds itself.

    I think the best way to understand “honor killings” is that they are NOT RELIGIOUS ARTIFACTS, but CULTURAL ARTIFACTS of FUEDAL CULTURES. To directly blame religion is wrong, especially as religious practice follows culture. The key, I think, to understanding who is at risk from honor killing is to see who lives in a FUEDAL CULTURE, or has parents that are, despite living in a western/westernized country, culturally indoctrinated into the feudal mind-set. Not the religious affiliation of the members of the feudal culture.

    The best way to stop honor killings is to get the culture of origin out of a feudal state, where LIFE IS CHEAP and HONOR VALUABLE. Which is easier said than done, and sure as hell can’t be done by routinely over-throwing democracies because they interfere with our countries imperialist plans.

    But pointing fingers at Islam is, well, bush league. Honor killings happen irrespective of the religious affiliation of the victim. Sure, we hear about the Muslims, because we’re blowing up their part of the world. We don’t hear about the Christian honor killings in Italy, Greece, Africa, etc., because they’re not useful in spreading malicious, dehumanizing propaganda. We don’t hear about the honor killings in Africa or South East Asia because, frankly, almost nobody in the press, or our country, gives a shit about what happens to Africa.

    But a Muslim? Fucking A, front page news.

  161. #162 NoAstronomer
    May 12, 2008

    This is why I advocate leaving Iraq immediately, they don’t care about each other – why the hell should we? f**k ‘em.

  162. #163 Glen Davidson
    May 12, 2008

    I was actually responding to a specific comment by Michelle, which, unless I drastically misread it, was calling for exactly that. The constant skepticism of the very existence of moderate Muslims that Emily (71) had cited was another part of what I was responding to that I felt Michelle’s comment brought most succinctly, though certainly in a more extreme manner than everyone who comment likely intended.

    You were actually stereotyping practically everyone here over Michelle’s post, like the lying a-hole you are. And you were specifically lying about what I had written. You are the pus oozing from gangrenous limbs.

    If by being a concert (I assume concern) troll, you mean that I’m concerned about being swept up by hateful quasi-religious anti-Muslim ideology, then okay.

    You mean, if being a concern troll means self-righteously and falsely stereotyping and condemning others, you’re happy to do so.

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

  163. #164 Jason Failes (again)
    May 12, 2008

    “I think the best way to understand “honor killings” is that they are NOT RELIGIOUS ARTIFACTS, but CULTURAL ARTIFACTS of FUEDAL CULTURES.”

    Without God, all capitalizations are permitted…

    “But pointing fingers at Islam is, well, bush league.”

    Yeah, just because they said they did it in the name of Allah, and in the name of upholding Muslim law, doesn’t mean it had anything at all to do with either Islam or religion…

  164. #165 SteveM
    May 12, 2008

    take the Observer and read this article.

    The mother did object to her husband killing their daughter. As a result the husband broke her arm and divorced her. The mother is now in hiding fearing retribution from his family.

    No, she divorced him. Not an insignificant distinction, since that is the reason she is now in fear of her own life from her husband and the rest of his family.

    Rand’s mother, 41, remains in hiding after divorcing her husband in the immediate aftermath of the killing, living in fear of retribution from his family.

  165. #166 Matt Penfold
    May 12, 2008

    “I certainly agree that group membership can carry responsibilities but I have several objections. The first pertains to the idea that Muslims aren’t a unified group and that moderate or liberal Muslims may very well not even religiously identify with these people any more than a Lutheran identifies with a Catholic.

    Second, I agree that I moderates ought to speak out, but I only disagree that if they don’t do so they’re women-hating murderers.”

    I accept your point to some extent, however it cuts both ways. Moderate Muslims may well not identify themselves with the kind of Muslim who carried out this killing, and I fully accept they may well abhor his actions. However that does render moot those here who have claimed PZ is attacking all Muslims. If a Muslim does not identify in way with the actions being condemned by PZ and others, then they also cannot claim to identify with that condemnation and claim to be persecuted as a result.

    If the moderate Muslims have any identification with the Muslims who carry out this sort of crime then any condemnation applied to them as well, especially if they fail to speak out against it. If they have no such identification then they have special interest in the condemnations, and cannot claim them to be an attack on their beliefs.

    Your example of Catholics and Lutherans is well taken, but fails when an attack on, for example, Catholic teaching on abortion is taken to be an attack on Christianity. If a Christian, or Muslim, perceives an attack on a particular sub-set of their faith, and of which they are not member, to be an attack on them, then they loose the defence “It ain’t what I believe guv”.

  166. #167 Michelle
    May 12, 2008

    “Yeah, just because they said they did it in the name of Allah, and in the name of upholding Muslim law, doesn’t mean it had anything at all to do with either Islam or religion…”

    I’m downright sure these monsters disagree with you right there. All these countries are religious zealots. It’s led by a RELIGION.

  167. #168 Matt Penfold
    May 12, 2008

    “No, she divorced him. Not an insignificant distinction, since that is the reason she is now in fear of her own life from her husband and the rest of his family.”

    You are correct. My mistake. I dug out the paper and checked. I was wrong to say he divorced her, but correct in saying she was assaulted by him, suffering a broken arm in the process, and is now in hiding.

    If my government (The UK) has any ball (it doesn’t!) it would find this women and offer her asylum.

  168. #169 Chuck S.
    May 12, 2008

    Beyond monstrous. Dastardly. It’s an abomination. It’s inhuman.

    I’m disgusted.

  169. #170 Nick Gotts
    May 12, 2008

    Moses @161 is certainly right that “honour killings” occur in non-Muslim social groups. However, that doesn’t in itself “acquit” Islam, as it could have played a causal role in maintaining the norms that justify such killings.
    Can anyone knowledgeable about Islam cite passages in the Koran (or the Hadiths – though the population of Basra is almost entirely Shia), or provisions of Sharia law which can be interpreted as saying either “Thou shalt not commit honour killings”, or “Thou shalt commit honour killings”? That would go some way towards determining how far Islam itself can reasonably be considered a causal factor in this murder.

  170. #171 Hephaestus
    May 12, 2008

    I’m a little late to this party, but I wanted to state my agreement with PZ. The father is indeed a monster and is the product of a monstrous culture.

    I also agree with Moses, if a little less breathlessly. There are cultures around the world that practice “honor” killings and most of them are rarely mentioned in the press. This, and the other killings from the Middle East, are making the news because the Arabs are the villians of the day. I wouldn’t even credit it as Muslims being specifically targeted by the press, because they ignore the most populous Muslim countries of Indonesia, Bangladesh, and India.

    The problem lies in twenty-first century tribalism. It’s always us versus them. Until an age of rationalism comes along, and I’m not holding my breath, this kind of stuff is going to keep happening.

  171. #172 noncarborundum
    May 12, 2008

    Or do these moderates care more about the dignity of their prophet (who’s been dead for over a millennium) than they do about the actual life (and death) of a young woman?

    Bingo. A prominent Muslim in my area (Boston suburbs), who no doubt would consider herself a moderate, wrote an op-ed in the local paper a couple of years ago in which she undertook to reassure Christians and Jews that, no matter how bad things got, at least Muslims would never commit the ultimate outrage of defiling their holy texts.

    This was at a time when there were stories circulating about how U.S. military personnel at Guantánamo and elsewhere had desecrated copies of the Qur’an. Apparently this woman thought the most pressing worry among Jews and Christians in eastern Massachusetts was not that some Muslims might become violent and kill themselves and others over these reports (which had already happened), but that they would retaliate for the Qur’an desecration by turning around and doing the same thing to copies of the Bible.

  172. #173 Brian
    May 12, 2008

    Absolutely eye-opening. This brings the reality of how “conditional” love can be when your mind is lost to dogmatic fundamentalism.

    Thanks very much for your commentary on this.

  173. #174 tincture
    May 12, 2008

    Josh:

    Fuck…

    Indeed.

  174. #175 Ray Ingles
    May 12, 2008

    Mr. Birkey – you might want to look at this link for a discussion of your question.

  175. #176 Matt Penfold
    May 12, 2008

    “The problem lies in twenty-first century tribalism. It’s always us versus them. Until an age of rationalism comes along, and I’m not holding my breath, this kind of stuff is going to keep happening.”

    This is true, but I would add that religion is a great abettor of tribalism. This a point Dawkins makes in “The God Delusional”, and is all to frequently overlooked.

  176. #177 valor
    May 12, 2008

    I’ve never read or studied the Quran, and I’m totally unfamiliar with it. However, I do know (or have been told by moderate Muslims) that a number of practices by Arab Muslims are not actual written in the Quran (like the burqa). My question, I guess, would be if any one knows of a passage in the Quran either explicitly condoning or condemning honor-killings?

    Because while this act is certainly abhorrent and also certainly predictable (there was an honor killing in Canada last year), I think it’s difficult to say that it is Islam’s fault. There were Arabs before there were Muslims. And I don’t mean that to be racist, I just mean that the culture existed before the religion.

  177. #178 Alex
    May 12, 2008

    Matt Penfold in #166:

    I agree that PZ and many others haven’t been condemning all Muslims. Rather, my initial post was largely in response to several outliers that explicitly did so in a way that seemed inappropriate since, like you pointed out, I don’t think they can really be grouped together. The problem for me is that much of the discussion doesn’t seem centered on the people who are directly responsible for this act and condoning it but rather on a broader group that isn’t even involved.

    I may have misunderstood your second point, but I think that when a Christian or Muslims perceives an attack on a sub-set of their larger faith as an attack on their own particular beliefs they often think as they do because the attack was imprecisely aimed at their larger group when the charges don’t apply to many of the sub-sets.

  178. #179 Glen Davidson
    May 12, 2008

    I think the best way to understand “honor killings” is that they are NOT RELIGIOUS ARTIFACTS, but CULTURAL ARTIFACTS of FUEDAL CULTURES. To directly blame religion is wrong, especially as religious practice follows culture. The key, I think, to understanding who is at risk from honor killing is to see who lives in a FUEDAL CULTURE, or has parents that are, despite living in a western/westernized country, culturally indoctrinated into the feudal mind-set. Not the religious affiliation of the members of the feudal culture.

    The key, I think, is for you to figure out why your mis-named “fuedal (sic)cultures” continue to exist far more in Islamic societies than in, say, Buddhist societies, or even animist societies which are exposed to more modern ideas.

    And learn how to spell “feudal” for God’s sake.

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

  179. #180 Hematite
    May 12, 2008

    Yeesh, sorry I’m having trouble keeping up with the comments. Apologies if I seem to be about 10 minutes behind the state of play.

    Matt Penfold (#155), Re muslim culture vs muslim religion: events in London have proven you to be wrong
    I don’t have a reference handy, but are we talking about the muslims who are causing trouble all through europe specifically because they haven’t integrated into the local culture?

    Glen Davidson (#139):

    Did anybody “blindly equate” the two?
    Penfold wrote “that a fundamentalist form of Islam is at the heart of what is wrong.”

    Matt Penfold disagreed with Emily’s post which suggested that they should not be equated. I admit I found the rest of his comment hard to parse. I read Matt to be implying that all muslims should be held accountable for this vile killing, which I would call conflating (a particular) muslim culture and muslim religion in its entirety. If I misread him I apologise, but I still stand by what I said as a general statement. The full quote you cut short reads:

    If you want to carry on claiming that does not indicate something is terribly wrong with society in Iraq, and that a fundamentalist form of Islam is at the heart of what is wrong, then carry on. You are free to hold onto your delusions.

    …which does not address Emily’s comment at all. She was not talking about Iraq.

    Glen also said:

    How about dealing with some issues, instead of dispensing stale platitudes? I know you concern trolls feel stunningly righteous, the trouble is that you’re not, you’re simply playing an us-vs.-them blame game.

    Them’s fightin’ words. I’m trying to defend the statement that the set of muslims and the set of muslim fundamentalists are not coextensive. It seems pretty sensible to me. If you want to call that concern trolling, I’ll wear the label with pride. And who are the us-and-them? Who am I blaming? Which issues am I avoiding?

  180. #181 Omar Ali
    May 12, 2008

    Every second person seems to have an opinion about whether “Islam” is to blame or “the culture” is to blame. This seems a confused and meaningless distinction. Islam is not some person or place with a concrete presence. Its a much more vague and amorphous construct. It means a hundred different things depending on context and implicit or explicit definitions. In this case, Islam AS UNDERSTOOD by this father and the policemen in Basra and MANY (?MOST?) MALE MUSLIMS in that country permits and even encourages this barbarism. At the same time, Islam, as understood by liberal muslims (even in Iraq) does NOT approve of this conduct. Muslims in Fiji and New Zealand may mostly ignore what Muslims in Basra and Peshawar regard as holy writ. There is no monolithic uniform “islam” for everyone. On the other hand, there IS a mainstream, orthodox interpretation of Islam that is well codified and much more widely accepted among muslims than any comparable code among Jews or Christians. THAT mainstream orthodox Islam does NOT specifically order honor killings and strictly speaking, would regard this act as murder. BUT, that mainstream Islam does regard apostasy as punishable by death, adultery as punishable by stoning, slavery as legal, women’s testimony as less reliable than men, men as protectors and masters of “their women” and so on…..

  181. #182 Coriolis
    May 12, 2008

    This whole “but other religions do that to” nonsense is getting tiring. Yes, we all know that.

    It wasn’t that long ago that a polygamist cult in the US abusing women and children was raided by the police. Yes, that was just as bad as this (infact worse from an institutional viewpoint although not personal I guess). We all know that.

    The crucial difference that some of you PC-junkies need to get your heads around is that in those cases the government went after these people. Not just the government but almost all religious people condemned them as well, hell the LDS church condemned them just as much if not more then other people.

    In this case, the local police gave the man a pat on the back and he’s apparently getting away with it. When the government of a society condones these actions it stops being just some crazy nutjob and starts being a problem of the culture of that society.

  182. #183 Calladus
    May 12, 2008

    My guess at their answer would be “abortion and euthanasia”.

    I would say that you’re probably correct. Because Murder = Murder = Murder in all cases.

    Remember, it isn’t murder if you believe your God has labeled the action in question as “justice”.

  183. #184 valor
    May 12, 2008

    found a Quranic verse:

    “Whoso slayeth a believer of set purpose, his reward is Hell for ever. Allah is wroth against him and He hath cursed him and prepared for him an awful doom.” (An-Nisa’: 93)

    Of course, I suppose the killer could just say that his daughter was not a “true” believer because she flirted with a Christian, but that’s cheating.

  184. #185 ddr
    May 12, 2008

    #94 “Ok here you do the math:
    (1 billion muslims)/(number of muslims who kill their children) = how relevant the incident is to islam. Hint: its a small fucking number”

    It was not a small number to the woman who was killed.

  185. #186 Matt Penfold
    May 12, 2008

    “I don’t have a reference handy, but are we talking about the muslims who are causing trouble all through europe specifically because they haven’t integrated into the local culture?”

    We are talking about the Muslims who carried out suicide bombing on 7th July 2005 on the London Underground, and on a London bus.

    Those who carried out the attacks were British born, spoke with Nothern English accents, had attended British schools and yet chose to kill 52 people, and injure some 700 in the name of their god.

    It is not clear how their being exposed to western culture moderated their actions.

  186. #187 Brownian, OM
    May 12, 2008

    There were Arabs before there were Muslims.

    Valor, pre-Islamic Arabic culture existed over 1100 years ago. Baghdad was once a centre of science, learning, and literature. You’d be hard-pressed to demonstrate that the behaviours we are discussing now have persisted unchanged throughout that entire time.

  187. #188 Bob L
    May 12, 2008

    Man that is messed up. The kind of indoctrination that you would have to have do to kill you own child. They think they can bring democracy to that?

  188. #189 Matt Penfold
    May 12, 2008

    “…which does not address Emily’s comment at all. She was not talking about Iraq.”

    PZ was talking about Iraq, she was talking about what PZ said. You follow the logic, if you can. If you can’t, ask a grown-up.

  189. #190 valor
    May 12, 2008

    Valid. I’m not saying that all pre-Islamic Arabs thought this was cool, just as not all Islamic Arabs did. But I think (and I do mean think, this is unresearched) that Bedouin practiced honor killings before they met Islam.

    But I don’t have the research on that. And I have to go. Sorry for the unproved assertion.

  190. #191 Nick Gotts
    May 12, 2008

    Omar Ali @181 – Thanks, that was the kind of clarification I was seeking @170.

  191. #192 Jason Failes (again)
    May 12, 2008

    #188 : “They think they can bring democracy to that?”

    Since democracy means rule by the people, it’s absurd to impose that from without, regardless of the culture in question.

  192. #193 Brownian, OM
    May 12, 2008

    But I think (and I do mean think, this is unresearched) that Bedouin practiced honor killings before they met Islam.

    Ah, I see, you’re drawing some specific inferences about specific groups and the continuation of cultural traits through those. I think that is valid, though hard to do for any but well-researched historians and anthropologists.

    Too bad you have to go. Can you come out and play later?

  193. #194 Etha Williams
    May 12, 2008

    Organized religion (such as the brand of Islam being discussed here) is a social construct; thus, the best basis on which to critique it is not the teachings or books on which it purports to be based, but rather its social consequences — the behavior of civilizations and people who claim that religion. To make a “no true Muslim” argument is just as foolish as to say “no true Christian.”

  194. #195 Nick Gotts
    May 12, 2008

    Re #188 “They think they can bring democracy to that?”, and
    #192 “Since democracy means rule by the people, it’s absurd to impose that from without, regardless of the culture in question.”

    Irrelevant, since that is not what the invaders were trying to do. They wanted military bases, control of the economy, and a compliant puppet government. The preference for a bit of “democratic” window dressing is purely cosmetic.

  195. #196 Matt Penfold
    May 12, 2008

    Valor,

    First, the term honour killing implies some kind of legitimacy on what is really just the slaying of a family member of who’s behaviour you do not approve. There is no honour in killings like that.

    And I many cultures over the years will have practised such killings. That does not excuse them. There is this concept of progress in how humans deal with each other. We no longer think slavery is acceptable in most of the world, in Europe the death penalty has gone because it is barbaric, and so on. To claim that a behaviour is traditional does not excuse it in any way.

  196. #197 Dutch Delight
    May 12, 2008

    Moses: “But a Muslim? Fucking A, front page news.”

    The sentiment in your post is spot on imo. You’ll also notice PZ’s post isn’t about muslims specifically but rather about crazy religions offering refuge to these monsters instead of working as advertised.

  197. #198 Glen Davidson
    May 12, 2008
    Did anybody “blindly equate” the two?

    Penfold wrote “that a fundamentalist form of Islam is at the heart of what is wrong.”

    Matt Penfold disagreed with Emily’s post which suggested that they should not be equated.

    He disagreed with an unfair attack by Emily. You are too stupid to understand that, you mischaracterized what he wrote, and like any IDiot would do, you continue on with your misrepresentation after being called on it.

    In essence, you’re simply lying.

    I admit I found the rest of his comment hard to parse. I read Matt to be implying that all muslims should be held accountable for this vile killing, which I would call conflating (a particular) muslim culture and muslim religion in its entirety. If I misread him I apologise,

    You misrepresented him. Forget the “misread”, you’re not operating on any honest level about these matters.

    but I still stand by what I said as a general statement. The full quote you cut short reads:

    If you want to carry on claiming that does not indicate something is terribly wrong with society in Iraq, and that a fundamentalist form of Islam is at the heart of what is wrong, then carry on. You are free to hold onto your delusions.

    Ooh, cut short eh? Can the false insinuations, jerk, I simply excerpted a telling point. The context you added changes not a damn thing, other than the fact that it exposes your eagerness to twist the issues to support your initial false accusations.

    …which does not address Emily’s comment at all. She was not talking about Iraq.

    Of course she was, because she jumped into an issue which involved Iraq and the religious bigotry that exists there. Emily distorted the initial post and subsequent comments into an attack on the entire Islamic community, when PZ had not done that at all. Penfield responded to her dishonesty, and you took up the cudgel in favor of her dishonest distortion of the matter.

    Glen also said:

    How about dealing with some issues, instead of dispensing stale platitudes? I know you concern trolls feel stunningly righteous, the trouble is that you’re not, you’re simply playing an us-vs.-them blame game.

    Them’s fightin’ words. I’m trying to defend the statement that the set of muslims and the set of muslim fundamentalists are not coextensive.

    Which was a false accusation that these posts suggest otherwise. You perpetuate that dishonesty, because apparently getting the facts right before you attack is not part of your response.

    It seems pretty sensible to me.

    Only if you’re too stupid to understand that most weren’t saying that the two are coextensive. No matter that this has often been pointed out to you and the equally dishonest Alex, you continue to perpetuate the falsehoods to which we were actually responding.

    If you want to call that concern trolling, I’ll wear the label with pride. And who are the us-and-them? Who am I blaming? Which issues am I avoiding?

    All of the ones I mentioned, you moron. You have avoided all of the facts about Emily’s initial attack, and your dishonest perpetuation of the implicit and explicit lies in her comments. You simply side with her because you idiotically believe her, and you want to pretend that you’re some grand moral being above the straw whores you attack, rather than the slimy perpetrator of dishonest stereotyping.

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

  198. #199 Matt Penfold
    May 12, 2008

    “Organized religion (such as the brand of Islam being discussed here) is a social construct; thus, the best basis on which to critique it is not the teachings or books on which it purports to be based, but rather its social consequences — the behavior of civilizations and people who claim that religion. To make a “no true Muslim” argument is just as foolish as to say “no true Christian.””

    So can we say Iraq is fucked then ?

  199. #200 Glen Davidson
    May 12, 2008

    You simply side with her because you idiotically believe her, and you want to pretend that you’re some grand moral being above the straw whores you attack, rather than the slimy perpetrator of dishonest stereotyping.

    Should have been:

    You simply side with her because you idiotically believe her, and you want to pretend that you’re some grand moral being above the straw whores you attack, rather than the slimy perpetrator of dishonest stereotyping that you are.

  200. #201 J
    May 12, 2008

    Many Americans seem to vastly overestimate the percentage of moderate-by-ordinary-standards Muslims there actually are. (To be fair, Europeans who’ve been brainwashed by the PC Brigade, including newspapers like The Guardian, do this as well.)

    To give an example of how wonderfully moderate they are: Sir Iqbal Sacranie, leader of the Muslim Council of Britain, said about Salman Rushdie:

    “Death, perhaps, is a bit too easy for him… his mind must be tormented for the rest of his life unless he asks for forgiveness to Almighty Allah.”

    Naturally, after he said that there was no uproar from other so-called moderates. (They’d much rather complain about how we must “understand” that silly cartoons offend them.) There was no call for his resignation. Rather, about ten years later he was made a Sir.

  201. #202 Hematite
    May 12, 2008

    Matt Penfold (#189):

    “…which does not address Emily’s comment at all. She was not talking about Iraq.”
    PZ was talking about Iraq, she was talking about what PZ said. You follow the logic, if you can. If you can’t, ask a grown-up.

    No, she was talking about “condemning Islam” based on this killing, which PZ did not do but does happen in general when this type of story comes up, and has happened in the comments – which is why your reply doesn’t quite make sense. The whole thing was a misunderstanding.

  202. #203 J
    May 12, 2008

    Take a look at that quotation again and let it sink in. What an absolutely outrageous remark. In a society in which capital punishment is condemned, he says in public that Rushdie “must [emphasis mine] be tormented for the rest of his life”.

    (Source: http://books.guardian.co.uk/departments/generalfiction/story/0,6000,112335,00.html)

  203. #204 Ted D
    May 12, 2008

    @#201

    Why do I get the feeling that someone using the term “PC Brigade” might not present entirely unbiased arguments… hmmm…

  204. #205 Glen Davidson
    May 12, 2008

    Rather, my initial post was largely in response to several outliers that explicitly did so in a way that seemed inappropriate since, like you pointed out, I don’t think they can really be grouped together.

    No, you’re just a stupid liar.

    What the deal with Michelles’ post is, I don’t know, but you simply lied about mine (#89).

    And you wrote “The responses to Emily’s (71) post were fairly hate-filled and hostile to even the idea of liberal Muslims. ”

    Mendacious idiot. You weren’t targeting “outliers” there, nor did you acknowledge that Emily’s post was a dishonest attack.

    Now you try to spin more lies to cover up the many lies you’ve already told. You’re proof positive that the IDiots and creationists don’t have all of the worst liars on their side.

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

  205. #206 Armchair Dissident
    May 12, 2008

    If they are unwilling to even to do that then they must accept the condemnation of the beliefs that lead to killings such as this.

    Gotta disagree with this too, although I have to say I’ve only recently come to my current understanding on this and would – until recently – have whole-heartedly agreed with you.

    Every time an atrocity is committed by a person a Muslim, and condoned by other Muslims, the cry goes out asking, “Where are the moderate Muslims condemning this action”. This sounds reasonable, but I would argue that it isn’t for two reasons: first, there is the implicit assumption that moderate Muslims – those that treat Islam in much the same way that the English treat the CofE – are not condemning the action, and second the assumption that where they are being more vocal in their condemnation, their voice is being reported.

    Take this incident as an excellent example of the problem. An atrocity is committed in the name of Islam, and is commended by the father’s brothers, and – allegedly – by the local police in Basra. Millions of CofE-esque Muslims around the world are invariably outraged. The people in Basra – where the press are focused – will probably be privately condemning it as well, but at the same time there will be a dawning realisation (if they hadn’t realised it before) that their police force can, and do, selectively enforce the law as they feel fit: speaking out will have future implications, as the mother found out to her cost.

    Remeber, if you are a Muslim is Iraq, or Iran, or Saudi Arabia, or – for that matter – in Dubai, your options for protest or free speech are severely curtailed, and those nationals in those countries who do speak out are very brave characters. It can then be argued that if you are a Muslim in the UK that you are free to speak out and should do so. But this presumes both that Muslims in the UK are not outraged by this, or that their outrage would be represented in the press. In the UK about the only organisation that the media or government ever refer to for Muslim matters is the Muslim Council of Britain — which can hardly be considered a moderate organisation of the CofE-esque variety. So who’s even going to report the outrage? That you don’t hear of the outrage is not an indication that it isn’t there.

    Case in point again – and I apologise for picking again on Cardinal Murphy O’Connor (I just don’t like him very much) – the good Cardinal O’Connor has made some absolutely outrageous claims – claims that many British Catholics simply don’t hold, and simply don’t agree with. But O’Connor is the person the media turn to when they report on the catholic position on – for example – abortion: even though survey after survey demonstrate that most Catholics don’t agree with the cardinal, his is the view that is trotted out as the “Catholic reaction” to news on abortion. It’s simply not an even remotely true picture.

    The same is true of Islam. The press choose who they talk to, and they – quite frankly – talk to some very f*cked up organisations that have somehow gained respectability (presumably because they’re sufficiently “religious”), but – just as the Catholic church denies a voice to actual practicing Catholics, or the CofE denies a voice to actual practicing Protestants – these organisations deny the CofE-esque Muslims a voice.

    Don’t presume that the moderate Muslims are not vocally condemning these actions.

    Once again, the problem in Basra is that fundamentalist Islam has wormed its way into the government institution. That is not the fault of the CofE-eque Muslims.

  206. #207 J
    May 12, 2008

    Sorry, I accidentally included a bracket in that link.

    http://books.guardian.co.uk/departments/generalfiction/story/0,6000,112335,00.html

  207. #208 Dutch Delight
    May 12, 2008

    Matt Penfold: “So can we say Iraq is fucked then ?”

    5 years to late with that question.

    Even though it’s a tad old, I recommend: http://www.infidelguy.com/article-print-28.html

  208. #209 Kristin
    May 12, 2008

    So, the next time some idiot tries to defend Bush’s little adventure in Iraq by claiming that he’s made things so much better for the women of Iraq (because W stands for Women, don’t you know) point them to this article. Or one of the many other articles about how so-called honor killings are on the rise. Or one of the many articles on increasing violence against women. Or…well, you get the picture.

  209. #210 dubiquiabs
    May 12, 2008

    @ 80
    Martin, you again? Trying to “kill” the messenger?

  210. #211 Bill Dauphin
    May 12, 2008

    (1 billion muslims)/(number of muslims who kill their children) = how relevant the incident is to islam. Hint: its a small fucking number.

    Oh, goody, we’re doing math! I know this particular equation has already been written off as screwed up, so let’s try a different one:

    (Number of Muslims who carry out honor killings)/(Number of those same people who would kill their family members if they weren’t Muslims) = ?? [I'm guessing this one is a big number, if not infinite (i.e., the denominator may well be zero)]

    I’ve been reading the discussion of whether this atrocity should be blamed on Islam or local culture or sexism or the personal depravity of the “honor”-killer, and since we’re doing the math thing, I’ll try to state my own hypothesis as an equation:

    PHK = ABS(Sm-Sf)*(Arel/Asec)*SHsex

    Where…
    PHK = Probability of honor killing
    Sm and Sf = Social status of males and females, respectively
    Arel and Asec = Religious and secular authority, respectively
    SHsex = Level of shame associated with sexuality
    (Proper units and allowable ranges of values left as an exercise for the student)

    What I’m suggesting is that the necessary social conditions for honor killing are gender inequality (i.e., the first factor in my equation), significant religious authority (the second factor), and significant shaming of sexuality. My hypothesis is that honor killings (as a cultural institution, that is) would be impossible in a society that had no gender inequality or nonsecular authority or sex-negative tendencies. If all of those factors are nontrivial and any one of them is very large, the risk of honor killing becomes significant, and in a purely theocratic society, according to this formulation, honor killings would be infinitely likely.

    Note that in this forumlation, the risk of honor killing depends on the (you should pardon the expression) penetration of religious authority in a society, rather than the particular religion; however, a secondary hypothesis is that the first and third factors in the equation (gender inequality and sexual shaming) are not independent of dominant creed. More research is needed on this point.

  211. #212 Matt Penfold
    May 12, 2008

    “No, she was talking about “condemning Islam” based on this killing, which PZ did not do but does happen in general when this type of story comes up, and has happened in the comments – which is why your reply doesn’t quite make sense. The whole thing was a misunderstanding.”

    So she was complaining about PZ saying something he did not actually say ?

    In your opinion did she make that mistake because she was 1) too stupid to understand what PZ was actually saying, 2) Understood what PZ was saying but had her own agenda to push that does not require her to pay attention to the truth or 3) is just bat-shit insane ?

  212. #213 Hematite
    May 12, 2008

    Matt Penfold (#166):

    If the moderate Muslims have any identification with the Muslims who carry out this sort of crime then any condemnation applied to them as well, especially if they fail to speak out against it. If they have no such identification then they have special interest in the condemnations, and cannot claim them to be an attack on their beliefs…If a Christian, or Muslim, perceives an attack on a particular sub-set of their faith, and of which they are not member, to be an attack on them, then they loose the defence “It ain’t what I believe guv”.

    First thing, I hope you don’t think I’m arguing in bad faith. I don’t wish to argue at all, I’m just trying to clarify a point. Glen Davidson is busy slandering me with great enthusiasm and I’d rather tidy up sensible conversations before I give him any more time.

    Right.

    I agree with all I quoted from you above. In the terms of your quote above, what I am arguing against is (1) a subgroup is accused of a crime, for example the insane child raper Christian cult from a couple of weeks ago. As you say, since most Christians do not hold the same beliefs as the cultists an attack on the cultists would not be construed as an attack on Christianity. (2) Some third party declares that the cultists are representative of Christianity. Now little old ladies in the Church of England are being tarred with the same brush as the child molesters. I would be very surprised if anyone wants to say this statement follows from (1), I take any argument so far as a failure of communication on my part.

    (2) is what has been happening in this thread at various points, and happens in the media (but PZ did not make this mistake in his post), what I understand Emily to have been arguing against, and what I argue against.

    I would like to say again that the only point I wish to make is that the error in (2) is incorrect as a principle.

  213. #214 J
    May 12, 2008

    Why do I get the feeling that someone using the term “PC Brigade” might not present entirely unbiased arguments… hmmm…
    Why do I get the feeling that someone who doesn’t recognize the existence of the PC Brigade won’t even consider what I said. Hmmm…

    In any case, I barely even advanced an argument. The main thing I did in the two little posts above was state a fact about Iqbal Sacranie. Check it out yourself if you want.

  214. #215 Dan Jensen
    May 12, 2008

    Personally, all this typhoon news just makes me want to pull out God’s fingernails. F&*k *Him*.

    That said, I get real damned tired of being called intolerant for despising these murderous Islamic traditions. Still, there is hope–there must be hope–that Muslims will, as a whole, adopt more enlightened notions of monotheism that, for instance, forbid any claim to having God on one’s side (He sure as Hell isn’t on *my* side). That’s called ASSIGNING PARTNERS TO GOD to all of you hypocritical so-called monotheists out there. Muslims must transform their idols (Muhammad and the Qur’an) into more humanistic representations so that they can build upon their heritage in a constructive way. Otherwise, there may not be any future worth looking forward to.

  215. #216 frog
    May 12, 2008

    Moses: Anyone who would profess surprise by the change, and would argue that it was really always that way, is ignoring that all religions, including fundamentalist Christianity, Islam, etc., are “cafeteria” in practice — that is, what and which particular parts and practices of the religion are utilized in a manner that are really a reflection of the current culture in which the religion finds itself.

    This is another way of saying that religion is in essence a language – anything can be said in any language, all languages are inter-tranlateable.

    On the other hand, certain languages have built in biases. In Romance languages, it is difficult to make a gender neutral statement. English has a tendency to convert temporary states into permanent properties; it’s more difficult to distinguish the two in English, as compared to Slavic or Romance languages. Chinese has a tendency to ambiguity from the lack of a normal copulative.

    Religious languages, such as Islam and Christianity, make it much easier to produce an apparently sensible sentence justifying murdering your daughter because of who she flirts with. It is possible in any cultural system, but it would be difficult to do so in say an atheist Minnesota culture, but quite easy in an Iraqi Muslim context. In the former, almost any such presentation will appear to be insane.

    It’s not about any particular religious belief – it’s about entire religious systems and their inbuilt biases. It’s possible to construct a Catholic theology that is egalitarian (Liberation Theology), but it takes a lot more work and it’s more fragile, than a feudal Catholic theology. Or in an American vein, one can construct a Constitutional interpretation that is anti-classist and anti-racist, but the language just doesn’t lend itself to it; it’s a tougher debate position to take, as the wingers who scream out “It’s a republic, not a democracy” make clear.

  216. #217 Matt Penfold
    May 12, 2008

    “Once again, the problem in Basra is that fundamentalist Islam has wormed its way into the government institution. That is not the fault of the CofE-eque Muslims.”

    I would agree with that. The fault in Basra lies with those in charge, and with the British Government who let those people take power.

    I also do not totally disagree with the rest of your post. I suspect there is an under-reporting of condemnation by Muslims of atrocities committed by other Muslims. I do though stand by by point that if you choose to identify yourself with a group then you cannot avoid condemnation of that group when it is deserved. I can speak best of the UK, since I live here. In the UK there are no doubt a good number of Muslims who really do abhor the actions of this father and who not consider criticism of the form of Islam that permits such killings to be an attack on them. I suspect though that there are a fair number who, whilst not supporting this man’s actions, consider the condemnation of the form of Islam he follows as an attack of them. Those Muslims do have a duty to speak out, and if they do, they deserve a share of the criticism. I also suspect there are some Muslims in the UK who approve of this man’s actions, and they deserve even more condemnation. There is culpability to be shared, but by no means equally.

  217. #218 Hematite
    May 12, 2008

    Matt Penfold (#186):

    Those who carried out the attacks were British born, spoke with Nothern English accents, had attended British schools and yet chose to kill 52 people, and injure some 700 in the name of their god.
    It is not clear how their being exposed to western culture moderated their actions.

    I concede the point. I would like to argue that Islamic faith divorced from muslim culture is no more dangerous than Christian faith, but I’m utterly unequipped to do so and will politely shut up about the matter.

  218. #219 Ann
    May 12, 2008

    Matt,

    I don’t think I’m ready to dispute your contention that “Membership of an institution carries responsibilities, and one of those is policing the actions of others member of that institution,” but I would like to know what the source of that assertion is.
    And I’m not sure we can equate voluntary membership in an organization (the Elks? the Marines?) with adherence to a religion, which might not be voluntary (in many countries) or at the least might be so entwined with one’s family and cultural identity as to be almost unavoidable.
    Even if we can equate the two, on what do you base the statement that members must police each other? Sure, it might be a wise PR move, but what makes it mandatory?
    What evidence do you require that Muslims (or any group members) disapprove of a specific behavior? I’m pretty sure that I’d have no notice of statements of condemnation that are issued in a mosque or in a Muslim-oriented newspaper.
    What effect would you expect such condemnations to have? Are you hoping that if Muslims throughout the Western world stand up and express outrage over honor killings, the behavior will stop in Iraq? Or would you just like to know that they do, indeed, condemn it?
    I don’t mean to come off as a smartass, but I really am curious about the underpinnings of that assertion.

  219. #220 Glen Davidson
    May 12, 2008

    Glen Davidson is busy slandering me with great enthusiasm and I’d rather tidy up sensible conversations before I give him any more time.

    OK, you’re too uneducated to know what slander is, too. Is there any area in which you’re not a low, ignorant, slug.

    I say basically what Penfield does, except that I point out that your “mistakes” constitute idiocy and dishonesty. Which they do.

    If you wanted sensible conversation, you should learn how to read, to think, and to have some decency. The fact is that I make sound points, you tell lies.

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

  220. #221 MikeM
    May 12, 2008

    This posting, and the one about the Duggars, and other news, and other postings at this and various other websites leads me to ask questions:

    What is a “moderate” religion?

    Can “moderate” religions exist?

    I’ve concluded that there can be no moderate religions. None of them. My wife, who does not have my cultural background, started going to a Buddhist church about 18 months ago. I go once in a while because I have to take the kids there when she’s not around. They seemed to be focused on this life, not the “next” life, which is positive… And even at that, I wonder why they exist. It’s more like a club, where we get to hear a couple pretty entertaining guys (yes, they’re pretty entertaining) tell us pretty much the same thing, week after week.

    “I am a link in…”

    I need to hear that maybe twice in my life, and then I get the picture. Okay, try to protect those who are weaker than myself. I get it. And the world would be a better place if we all did that.

    But is this a “moderate” religion? I don’t think so. Still bowing, still have an altar, still have “trained” people… Even the most moderate religion I can find isn’t really moderate. And I have friends who go every week.

    Even the most “liberal” of churches aren’t very moderate. At their core, they all accept ghost stories. I really can’t think of one that doesn’t.

    Your example here is of a fundamentalist. As soon as you accept a fundamentalist world-view, you’re in trouble. But I’m starting to think that even if you go to the most liberal Christian church, Jewish synagogue, Islamic mosque or Buddhist temple, you’ve already accepted some level of a ghost story. A world were prayers help; a world where we’re looking to move on to “better things.”

    So, I ask: Are there ANY “moderate” religions?

    (I say with disgust that the example you found here doesn’t help me answer that question affirmatively, and I very strongly suspect the answer to my question is a resounding no.)

  221. #222 Kseniya
    May 12, 2008

    Bill, there seems to be one thing missing. I think you also have to account for “cultural precedent for honor-killing” somehow. Have honor killings ever been prevalent in (for example) Christian societies that exhibited high values for gender inequality, religious authority, and shame?

  222. #223 Hematite
    May 12, 2008

    Jason Dick (#141):

    these “cute muslim students who wear head scarves along with their tight jeans and sleeveless tops” are part of the problem: they may not practice this sort of horrific nonsense, but they condone it, or at least are not outspoken against it. They are become monsters because of their religion because they are unwilling to criticize their own religion.

    Briefly, I do not see the local muslims as part of the same organisation as Iraqi lunatics, and I don’t think they do either. I they want to claim kinship they had better be making some pretty damn good apolgies, but if they don’t I won’t force it on them.

    I am in New Zealand though, I think European muslims are more strongly associated with the middle east and I understand they are more willing to claim to be of the same tradition.

  223. #224 Matt Penfold
    May 12, 2008

    Hermatite,

    I think I can surmise my argument thus:

    There are some actions which it is reasonable to condemn. I think we will agree that the killing being discussed is such an action.

    If the person who carried out this action says the reason he did so was his religious beliefs then it is not unreasonable to state that those religious beliefs are abhorant.

    There maybe people who share the same religion, but not the same religious belief set as this man. Those people do have a duty to speak out, but do not deserve great condemnation for failing to do so, unless they are in a position of authority within that religion, unless they identify at attack on the particular belief set that led to the killing as being an attack on their own belief set. If the latter is the case the person cannot escape condemnation as they have chosen to identify themselves with the beliefs that led the the action no matter that they may personally object to such an action.

    Or to put it even more succinctly, if people chose to interrupt an attack on this man and his beliefs as an attack on them and their beliefs then they have no legitimate grievance that they are being condemned unjustly as they have chosen to identify themselves with a person they previously had not considered themselves to be identified with.

  224. #225 qedpro
    May 12, 2008

    this is what moderate islam is.

    A while back there was an article about how a grandfather cut his 8 year old grand daughters head off because he thought she’d been molested by her uncle.

  225. #226 Glen Davidson
    May 12, 2008

    (2) is what has been happening in this thread at various points, and happens in the media (but PZ did not make this mistake in his post), what I understand Emily to have been arguing against, and what I argue against.

    I would like to say again that the only point I wish to make is that the error in (2) is incorrect as a principle.

    She wrote:

    Even as a lifelong atheist and full time scientist I am increasingly disinterested in visiting a blog that contains rampant hated speech against a religious ‘enemy’ and stereotype an entire wolrd religion.

    How is this different to what is done in Expelled and other digusting propagandas of distortion?

    She of course can’t write English well.

    And she was stereotyping the posts here. The fact is that PZ does not think well of Islam, and does attack it (you’re wrong there too, hematite. What PZ doesn’t do is blame all Muslims for a particular act). That’s not the same thing as saying that he’s blaming the Muslims in Figi or wherever for the killing, however. So Emily was being dishonest there, at least by not being specific enough to attack certain comments that did blame all Muslims, should these exist (I don’t know, she didn’t bother to criticize particular instances as an honest, non-stereotyping person would do).

    Plus, it is one thing for the IDiots to lie about evolutionary theory being a necessary condition for the Holocaust, and quite another thing for PZ or others to blame Islam (and many of us were careful to point to a certain type of Islam) for something for which it almost certainly is causal. As in its misogyny, authoritarianism, etc.

    It’s nothing that we don’t blame Xianity for when we think it’s partly causal of things we dislike in our society.

    Glen D
    http:

  226. #227 Glen Davidson
    May 12, 2008

    “Fiji”, of course.

    Glen Davidson
    http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

  227. #228 kat
    May 12, 2008

    murderers belong in jail. fuck his religion.

    this man considers his daughter his possession. he killed her and his (very religious) society congratulates him. even her own brothers join in!

    i feel sorry for her, her mother, indeed all women in those societies

    sick sick people

    this disgusting event is the abusive relationship at its worst, perversely magnified because of religion.
    so sad :(

  228. #229 J
    May 12, 2008

    How many “moderate” voices have you heard saying anything about this latest instance of Muslim savagery? Compare it with massive brouhaha generated by the Danish cartoons.

    This alone should make us skeptical about the supposed ubiquity of genuine moderate Muslims (and that’s forgetting the consistent frightening results of opinion polls). When someone says, “The majority of Muslims detest Islamic fundamentalism as much as you do”, ask them for the evidence.

  229. #230 frog
    May 12, 2008

    Hematite: Briefly, I do not see the local muslims as part of the same organisation as Iraqi lunatics, and I don’t think they do either. I they want to claim kinship they had better be making some pretty damn good apolgies, but if they don’t I won’t force it on them.

    I think we should turn the question around. Are Americans who don’t explicitly condemn the ongoing crimes by the US responsible for them? Are Europeans who don’t condemn explicitly the damage wrought around the world by their colonial systems collaborators in a sense? What about Russians and Chechnya? The list goes on and on… Everyone belongs to some group that has either recently or is currently committing grave acts internally or externally – none of us live in a utopia.

    There’s a line to be drawn here, but I don’t know where. How much responsibility does an individual have to fight against whatever system they are part of? And where do we get to layoff and simply lead our lives in whatever productive little ways we can find?

  230. #231 brokenSoldier
    May 12, 2008

    My hypothesis is that honor killings (as a cultural institution, that is) would be impossible in a society that had no gender inequality or nonsecular authority or sex-negative tendencies. If all of those factors are nontrivial and any one of them is very large, the risk of honor killing becomes significant, and in a purely theocratic society, according to this formulation, honor killings would be infinitely likely.

    Note that in this forumlation, the risk of honor killing depends on the (you should pardon the expression) penetration of religious authority in a society, rather than the particular religion; however, a secondary hypothesis is that the first and third factors in the equation (gender inequality and sexual shaming) are not independent of dominant creed. More research is needed on this point.

    Posted by: Bill Dauphin | May 12, 2008 2:07 PM

    Well said, Bill. The problem lies solely in the authority structure that allows this crime to occur unpunished – and even celebrated – in some areas of the world still today. And your logical math hit the nail right on the head – in those areas, religious authority trumps wordly authority, and along with it the civil liberties our civilizations have come to embrace.

    And having seen how the general patriarchal ego in such a society is utterly unhinged, it is easy to see how things of this nature can occur.

    **Personal account: My platoon was pulling out of a little village once after delivering a child to the hospital, and one of my gunners (sticking out of the top of the Humvee, nodded at a family on the way by and the wife made eye contact with him. The husband immediately punched her in the face in retaliation to her “dishonoring” him by looking at another man, especially “the enemy” that had just gotten his neighbor’s daughter the heart surgery she needed to survive. Even in the face of blatant attempts at goodwil and compassion, these sort of men will never be altered in their worldview for two reasons:

    1) They enjoy their positions of power and the privileges it gives them over their own home and villages. Even through the most sincere efforts of reconciliation, they will not release their patriarchal theocratic grip on their families and villages, for the simple – and childish – reason that they do not want to.

    2) Besides their enjoyment of the power it provides them, they proclaim to have a mandate from their supreme creator to commit such horrendous crimes and escape punishment. And since no authority on this earth (to them) can trump divine authority, they simply don’t care about the consequences of these acts in context of their country’s legal system. These are people who would endure the worst conditions here on earth – especially ones brought about by themselves – in order to live in eternal paradise after they die. When facing that, there’s not much that a helping hand will do to better the situation.

    It is a diametric opposition we’re dealing with here – and it is not between any of the religious establishments and their quibbles. This opposition holds religiots on one side, and reason on the other. One believes that a supernatural being dictates the directions our lives should take, while the other side believes that the human should use all the faculties given to them – science, reason, logic, etc… – to continue to grow and expand their knowledge of our place in the universe. The difference between the two is simple, and can be explained in one sentence.

    Religion – A mandate has been handed down by a supernatural being that should guide us and dictate the direction of our lives.

    Reason – Use the tools life has given you – mental and physical – to add to the contributions to knowledge, social advancement, and governmental reform to the best of your abilities to ensure that the quality of life on this Earth can one day be (somewhat) equal and stable.

    My beliefs tell me that through my own internal moral code – I didn’t receive it from a heavenly uplink – that ending a life is one of the worst crimes against humanity that can be committed, and killing a member of your own family is not only evil, cruel, and heartless, but it is seriously counter-productive in the long run, if allowed to continue as a practice.

    I have serious problems with someone who can utter the phrase “honor killing” with a straight, serious face. The phrase is such a obvious paradox that it begs the question – what device can remove the obvious conflict between the basic meanings of the two words? The only such device is religion, because it is believed by a great many in this world that this world is simply preparation for an eternal paradise. When you care more abou the future than you do about your present, the results can be harmful, if not murderous.

  231. #232 Hematite
    May 12, 2008

    Etha Williams(#194):

    Organized religion (such as the brand of Islam being discussed here) is a social construct; thus, the best basis on which to critique it is not the teachings or books on which it purports to be based, but rather its social consequences — the behavior of civilizations and people who claim that religion.

    I agree, this is my usual starting point when considering matters of religion. My upbringing was hugely secular and I tend to look at religions as socio-political organisations. It seems to be getting me into trouble in this thread. I tend to view religious groups as being equivalent when they produce an equivalent effect on society rather than when they use the same holy text.

    To make a “no true Muslim” argument is just as foolish as to say “no true Christian.”

    Agreed, but that’s not the whole story. It is foolish to let religious groups disown their members when it is convenient for them to do so; but it is equally foolish to lump groups together because of superficial similarities in absence of any working relationship, e.g. to call every person who has passed through Scotland a Scotsman. There is no substitute for a solid factual knowledge of the situation.

    I should point out that I state this as an abstract principle, before anyone jumps on me again.

  232. #233 Matt Penfold
    May 12, 2008

    “I don’t think I’m ready to dispute your contention that “Membership of an institution carries responsibilities, and one of those is policing the actions of others member of that institution,” but I would like to know what the source of that assertion is.”

    I would argue is simply a responsibility that comes from being a member of an institution.

    “And I’m not sure we can equate voluntary membership in an organization (the Elks? the Marines?) with adherence to a religion, which might not be voluntary (in many countries) or at the least might be so entwined with one’s family and cultural identity as to be almost unavoidable.”

    I have some sympathy with this, which is why most of my condemnation of other Muslims is limited to those in a position of power. Those in the city of Basra have bear the heaviest responsibility, and then in Iraq, and then outwards to the region, and so on. Ordinary Muslims do have some responsibility to speak out, but contingent on how much danger doing would place them in. In this case the responsibility would almost be reversed from that of the religious leaders. Muslims in the West would seem to have greater freedom to speak out against such actions than those in the Middle East.

    “What evidence do you require that Muslims (or any group members) disapprove of a specific behavior? I’m pretty sure that I’d have no notice of statements of condemnation that are issued in a mosque or in a Muslim-oriented newspaper.
    What effect would you expect such condemnations to have? Are you hoping that if Muslims throughout the Western world stand up and express outrage over honor killings, the behavior will stop in Iraq? Or would you just like to know that they do, indeed, condemn it?”

    A good question. Maybe Immans standing up a Friday prayers and making it clear that such killings are not acceptable would help, and would prominent Muslims speaking to the media and making it clear that such actions do not accord with their understanding of their religion. I am more than willing to acknowledge that there have been examples of Immansm, and prominent Muslims doing both those things. What I think I really want is for Muslims to be leading the howls of outrage against such killings, the same as I would like to see Christians leading the fight against the worst excesses of their more fundamentalist co-religionists. For example, why are Christians not at at the forefront of the fight against creationism in the US ? If they were doing their jobs we would not hear Richard Dawkins, PZ et al for the noise of Christians who accept science battling Christians who reject reality. In the case of killings such as this it is Muslims who need to take the lead in condemnation. In the case of Christians who let their kid die because they think prayer will cure her, then it should be Christians who are most vocal in saying that is not acceptable behaviour. I

    n other words whenever someone does something heinous and attributes the reason as being beliefs arising from membership of a group, then it is incumbent on that group to be the most vocal in speaking out against that action. If a police officer breaks the law then it should be, but sadly to often is not, his or her fellow officers who speak out against him, and if necessary bring that person to justice. If Marine commits a war crime the people who should be most active in condemning him or her should be fellow marines.

  233. #234 J
    May 12, 2008

    Are Americans who don’t explicitly condemn the ongoing crimes by the US responsible for them? Are Europeans who don’t condemn explicitly the damage wrought around the world by their colonial systems collaborators in a sense?
    I’m strongly against American foreign policy, but accidental killing of innocents is a far cry away from honour killing, the death sentence for apostasy, and the complete subjugation of all women. Also note that the vast bulk of deaths in Iraq have been directly a result of Muslim-on-Muslim violence.

    “Colonial systems”? What, the Falklands, or have you gone and wandered into a time-warp?

    (Here’s something to think about: Imagine what would happen to the world if an Islamic nation had at its disposal the USA’s military power.)

  234. #235 Roy McKenzie
    May 12, 2008

    Trash. Absolute Trash.

  235. #236 brokenSoldier
    May 12, 2008

    How is this different to what is done in Expelled and other digusting propagandas of distortion?

    Posted by: emily | May 12, 2008 11:06 AM

    This is an easy one – Expelled was a movie expounding a position using lies, distortions of truth, and outright theft (Lennon’s Imagine and the Harvard video) to make a point. In constrast, PZ’s post was an article outlining facts of what happened, and offered opinions of those actions based in common humanistic morality, as opposed to subservience to a divinely dictated code of ‘honor’ and justified murder.

  236. #237 Glen Davidson
    May 12, 2008

    It’s not about any particular religious belief – it’s about entire religious systems and their inbuilt biases.

    You have to deal with particular religious beliefs, especially in context (of course culture matters, a lot).

    We are more inclined to criticize certain religions than other ones for good reason. Some religions simply don’t have a great many built in biases that affect culture, for instance, or at least versions of them do not. I’d mention Buddhism as one of the ones that, well, has enough built-in biases, but hardly a lot of the prejudices that Abrahamic religions have had at various times and in various places regarding society, women, and the like.

    And surely the more liberal Muslims, (religious) Jews, and Xians, along with their beliefs, are not as deserving of criticism as are the more fundamentalist forms of those religions (IOW no, I’m not attacking Abrahamic religions as such, only in their specifics).

    And I don’t know what this is about:

    Or in an American vein, one can construct a Constitutional interpretation that is anti-classist and anti-racist, but the language just doesn’t lend itself to it;

    The original Constitution is almost painfully neutral (in the de jure sense, though in the de facto sense it fails to deal with contemporaneous problems) on most of these matters, as one sees with the slavery clauses. OTOH, surely the 13th and 14th Amendments are included in order to stop at least certain racial practices.

    I don’t know why anyone would want to see the original Constitution as being written to accommodate whatever race and class practices existed (though amenable to change by the states themselves), nor later amendments as taking on the most egregious racial practices. As far as class prejudice goes, however, the status quo provisions of the Constitution seem largely to rule, with little effort at the present to address these issues even with legislation, except very marginally (the DLC’s influence seems to prevail in the Democratic party thus far).

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

  237. #238 Marcus Ranum
    May 12, 2008

    I challenge anyone to think of another social force apart from religion which could make a parent willingly and gladly murder his own daughter and then brag about it afterwards.

    Grand Theft Auto?

  238. #239 Matt Penfold
    May 12, 2008

    “So, I ask: Are there ANY “moderate” religions?”

    Yes, but there is probably a debate to be had over whether they truly remain religions.

    There is an element within Anglicanism that I think could be considered moderate in the sense you mean. How much this element retains of the traditional concept of a god is not clear, as the form their religion takes concerns itself more with how to live a good life than in how to please a deity. Members of this branch of Anglicanism tend to be tolerant of lifestyles their more fundamentalist co-religionist condemn as sinful (children outside of marriage, being in a same-sex relationship etc.). They tend to have much in common with humanist philosophy, and would find their political views far more in line of those of Richard Dawkins than of anyone on the religious rigjt.

    I would be lying if I said that such Anglicans were in a majority, although in some parts of the world they are a significant minority and not without support within the leadership of their church.

    Of course it is not religious people (if we can even still call themselves religious) that Dawkins, PZ et al take issue with.

  239. #240 frog
    May 12, 2008

    J: I’m strongly against American foreign policy, but accidental killing of innocents is a far cry away from honour killing, the death sentence for apostasy, and the complete subjugation of all women. Also note that the vast bulk of deaths in Iraq have been directly a result of Muslim-on-Muslim violence.

    Hogwash. We knew that the invasion of Iraq was going to lead to a million dead. There are no “accidental” killings in war, they are part and parcel of the process, and have been for a century know. It’s part of the price paid. Those who start a war have to take moral responsibility for “collateral damage”, and at least try to justify that price. Those dead are just as dead as this girl – if anything this girl is also part of the price that was paid, since anyone with half a clue would have predicted a rise in fundamentalism in Iraq after the invasion.

    “Colonial systems”? What, the Falklands, or have you gone and wandered into a time-warp?

    What kind of self-delusional world view are you into? Somehow magically after retreating from Africa and Asia everyone would be happy and fair? Where the hell do you think that Suharto came from, or the Shah, or event the Burmese junta? That shirt you’re wearing probably came from slave labor in SE Asia, which is only possible because of centuries of colonialism. You don’t get off the hook by just going home.

    One of Europe’s most dastardly acts was retreating from their colonies after stealing everything that wasn’t nailed down and leaving their subjects for centuries to the tender mercies of the local thugs (think E. Timor, Burma, etc).

    (Here’s something to think about: Imagine what would happen to the world if an Islamic nation had at its disposal the USA’s military power.)

    I’m just laughing know. What would it take for an Islamic society to have the USA’s military power? Well, a significantly different economic and social system, for starters. A completely different historical relationship with Europe, and even a different geographical location.

    Counter-factuals like these are almost always a sign of terribly slopply thinking – it’s not clever at all. What would the world be like if Venezuela Ruled the World? Or New Guinea Had the Bomb? Or I was Seventy Feet Tall and the Power to Psychically Control Swine? What if… boohahahahahaha…

  240. #241 Glen Davidson
    May 12, 2008

    Organized religion (such as the brand of Islam being discussed here) is a social construct; thus, the best basis on which to critique it is not the teachings or books on which it purports to be based, but rather its social consequences — the behavior of civilizations and people who claim that religion.

    That’s a bit too little responsibility for the effects of ideas upon societies, and a bit too much responsibility given to religion when other issues might be playing a crucial role.

    One has to look at the teachings of the New Testament when discussing anti-Semitism in Xian cultures. OTOH, how much of imperialism can honestly be ascribed to Xianity, vs. simply understood as the result of greed and opportunism? I know that Xianity was often used as an excuse for imperialism, but it’s hard to say that other religions, ideologies, racial beliefs, or feeble excuses would have been discovered (and were to some extent) to “justify” imperialism and colonialism had Xianity not seemed useful to the task. I don’t think we should blame Xianity much for imperialism, for it simply built on the same sort of greed, desire for power, and aggression which exist in many non-Xian cultures (to be fair, Xianity is probably more compatible with imperialism than are some religions–but certainly no more than many pagan religions were).

    You have to look at the teachings to see if they are at least partially responsible for what a society does. Sometimes religion is not the cause, and indeed, the poverty many Muslims live in no doubt has a lot to do with creating much of the radical Islam which exists. This does not change the fact that the conservation of oppressive traditional beliefs by Islam is partly responsible for how Muslim discontentment is expressed, and it seems likely as well to bear some responsibility for the continued poverty within many Islamic societies (though imperialism, Mongol invasions, and other factors certainly played substantial parts in this as well).

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

  241. #242 watercat
    May 12, 2008

    This murderer is a member of the government that we have sacrificed thousands of lives and driven our own nation into bankruptcy to establish. He was commended for his actions by the police force we have been training for the past five years. It’s nice to see that our soldiers have not died in vain.

  242. #243 Matt Penfold
    May 12, 2008

    “Are Americans who don’t explicitly condemn the ongoing crimes by the US responsible for them?”

    Those Americans who voted for Bush do bear some responsibility .Those who failed to vote also bear some responsibility, as do those who do not oppose such crimes.

    The guilt is not be shared equally of course. Those who bear by far the greatest responsibility are Bush and his inner circle. The American military and civil commanders who allowed such actions to take place under their command are also very culpable, and to somewhat lesser extent, but still very culpable, are those who actually carried out these crimes. It is to America’s shame, and the world’s, that it has only held the most junior of those responsible to account.

    “Are Europeans who don’t condemn explicitly the damage wrought around the world by their colonial systems collaborators in a sense?”

    The situation with regards colonialism is somewhat different, not least because those who would have been responsible for crimes are very likely to be long dead, and very few people alive today were alive, and a adult, at the time.

    That said there is a duty on the citizens of those countries that have a Colonial legacy to recognise that, and to recognise that means that they cannot wash their hands of all responsibility for the state of those former colonies today. For example, the UK helped broker the peace deal that put Mugabe in power in Zimbabwe. Now the current state of that nation is down to Mugabe and the policies he followed. However the UK has a duty to do the utmost to make life tolerable for the people of that country. In the specific case of Zimbabwe it might mean doing so by proxy, but it does not remove the duty.

  243. #244 Dustin
    May 12, 2008

    Imagine what would happen to the world if an Islamic nation had at its disposal the USA’s military power.

    I suspect that, fueled by a death cult end-times mentality they would harass other members of the military for not being Muslim enough, attempt to impose theocratic rule throughout the military, and they would invade small, third world Christian countries by accusing them of harboring terrorists and weapons of mass destruction. Their generals might even go on Al Jazeera to claim that their war on terror really is a religious war.

    Mostly, the world would look like this.

  244. #245 frog
    May 12, 2008

    GlenD: The original Constitution is almost painfully neutral (in the de jure sense, though in the de facto sense it fails to deal with contemporaneous problems) on most of these matters, as one sees with the slavery clauses. OTOH, surely the 13th and 14th Amendments are included in order to stop at least certain racial practices.

    The neutrality had an agenda. If you read the Federalist papers, a large portion of the justification of the Constitution, is explicitly to protect class distinction and neutralize democratic forces (the balancing of factions, the protection of creditors as a class from debtors as a class). Of course the 13th and 14th amendments changed the racist nature of the document, which was explicit, in a pique of post-civil war radicalness. But the structure of the US government is quite clear as an attempt to block what the Federalists saw as the excesses of the Revolutionary War – an excess of equality. There’s a reason why it was so difficult to end slavery, why it has been so difficult to guarantee basic human rights (particularly economic ones) to every American citizens.

    The public arguments of 1789 over the constitution make it quite clear. The language was not neutral to these issues, but was “diplomatic”.

  245. #246 Joanne
    May 12, 2008

    If anyone is interested, you can donate to the Underground Railroad for Iraqi women via MADRE. Here’s the link.

  246. #247 frog
    May 12, 2008

    Matt: “Are Europeans who don’t condemn explicitly the damage wrought around the world by their colonial systems collaborators in a sense?”
    The situation with regards colonialism is somewhat different, not least because those who would have been responsible for crimes are very likely to be long dead, and very few people alive today were alive, and a adult, at the time.

    So the European living standard isn’t still propped up by the after affects of colonialism? The 60′s are long gone? We’re not talking about things that happened in the 19th century, but things done within our own lifetimes. What percentage of the EU population is over 50? Everyone alive today has directly benefited from the state of affairs mid-century. It is much too early to claim clean hands.

  247. #248 Josh
    May 12, 2008

    “We knew that the invasion of Iraq was going to lead to a million dead. There are no “accidental” killings in war, they are part and parcel of the process, and have been for a century know.”

    Your first sentence is true, at least the spirit of it (we knew we were going to end up slaughtering a whole bunch of non-combatants, if not a solid number). That absolutely is part and parcel of the process.

    Your second statement is false. There ARE accidental killings. There are. We don’t intend on “collateral damage” any more than we intend on friendly fire. We knew they were/are going to happen, but that doesn’t make them any less accidental…or any less tragic. To try and say that they aren’t accidents is to nullify the amount of anguish they can cause shooters when they’re not made from cruise missiles, but rather from M4 rounds on the ground. And if you don’t think they cause anguish then I guess you’ve never seen a PFC just out of high school when he misses and puts a nice little round hole in the shoulder of a young girl who chose the wrong moment to step out of a doorway. I realize it’s off-topic. It needed to be said nonetheless.

  248. #249 Matt Penfold
    May 12, 2008

    “If anyone is interested, you can donate to the Underground Railroad for Iraqi women via MADRE. Here’s the link.”

    What kind of world is it that some 150 years after the original underground railroad there is still the need for one ? And why would it be in a country where the US and the UK, both of whom claim to be bastions of enlightenment values, were instrumental in putting in place the civil structures that should obliviate the need for an underground railroad ?

    Anyone still willing to claim “we won” in Iraq ?

    Now if you will excuse me I think I need to go an be sick.

  249. #250 Glen Davidson
    May 12, 2008

    GlenD: The original Constitution is almost painfully neutral (in the de jure sense, though in the de facto sense it fails to deal with contemporaneous problems) on most of these matters, as one sees with the slavery clauses. OTOH, surely the 13th and 14th Amendments are included in order to stop at least certain racial practices.

    The neutrality had an agenda. If you read the Federalist papers, a large portion of the justification of the Constitution, is explicitly to protect class distinction and neutralize democratic forces (the balancing of factions, the protection of creditors as a class from debtors as a class). Of course the 13th and 14th amendments changed the racist nature of the document, which was explicit, in a pique of post-civil war radicalness. But the structure of the US government is quite clear as an attempt to block what the Federalists saw as the excesses of the Revolutionary War – an excess of equality. There’s a reason why it was so difficult to end slavery, why it has been so difficult to guarantee basic human rights (particularly economic ones) to every American citizens.

    The public arguments of 1789 over the constitution make it quite clear. The language was not neutral to these issues, but was “diplomatic”.

    Um, yeah, that’s what I said, except that I also noted that later amendments are a part of the Constitution.

    Why attack a strawman?

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

  250. #251 Hematite
    May 12, 2008

    Matt Penfold (#224):

    … the person cannot escape condemnation as they have chosen to identify themselves with the beliefs that led the the action no matter that they may personally object to such an action.

    I agree completely. I only wish to add that we should be careful to not assume that groups identify without evidence, innocent until proven guilty and all that.

    I think this is what Emily meant way back when, but I seem to be reading her comment differently from you and Glen. If you don’t disagree with my first paragraph I’ll call this settled amicably.

    Sigh. I guess that means I should go try and figure out what I did to set Glen off.

  251. #252 Tim Fuller
    May 12, 2008

    This is why Sam Harris et.al. are even more strident in their disgust of Islam than Christianity, which isn’t to say they’re fans of any of the religion, just pointing out the obvious in lieu of these types of repeated stories.

    Enjoy.

  252. #253 Ted D
    May 12, 2008

    Why do I get the feeling that someone who doesn’t recognize the existence of the PC Brigade won’t even consider what I said. Hmmm…

    In any case, I barely even advanced an argument. The main thing I did in the two little posts above was state a fact about Iqbal Sacranie. Check it out yourself if you want.

    Posted by: J | May 12, 2008 2:21 PM

    You started with a very general statement about a very large group of people. Then, instead of backing your claim up with actual facts, you claim that anyone who does not agree with it has been “brainwashed by the PC Brigade”, and jumps to “an example of how wonderfully moderate they are”, this example being a single individual in the group you made your initial statement about saying something really stupid.
    This dishonest tactic is what makes me disinclined to trust what you say, rather than brainwashing from some bogeyman of yours.
    Please note that I don’t try to argue with the facts. I don’t know what’s true here. But I rather suspect you don’t either.

  253. #254 Matt Penfold
    May 12, 2008

    “So the European living standard isn’t still propped up by the after affects of colonialism? The 60′s are long gone? We’re not talking about things that happened in the 19th century, but things done within our own lifetimes. What percentage of the EU population is over 50? Everyone alive today has directly benefited from the state of affairs mid-century. It is much too early to claim clean hands.”

    You will find I said that citizens of those nations that engaged in Colonialism do indeed have a duty to those former colonies. However I would ask that you tell us what politicians in power in the 60′s are still in power today.

    The 1960′s, which was the decade when most European nations divested themselves of their colonies is now nearly 40 years ago. It would have to have been a very young leader indeed to still be in power today. In fact, of course, they are not. There is a new generation now. In fact this is the second. Those who had most individual culpability are no lon ger in power. Those in power now have responsibility as a leader of a nation that engage in colonialism, but please, do not think they are personally culpable in anyway. Many of the politicians in power in the UK are in their 40′s and 50′s,. In other words they were not even adults at the time.

  254. #255 GDwarf
    May 12, 2008

    I suspect my last line has, at least in part, made it harder to see what it is I was trying to say.

    I am a firm supporter of evolution and opposed to Ben Stein, and am also a rather vocal atheist.

    My point was that taking the actions of an extremist and applying it to an entire belief system is stupid beyond belief.

    Do people here honestly think that if Islam didn’t exist that that girl would still be alive? I suspect she’d be just as dead, the justification would simply be different. Religion provides plenty of justification, and even a shield you can hide behind, but I don’t think that it is often the cause of events like this. Or, if it is, it’s only part of it. As such saying that “Islam caused this” is, at best, misleading.

    I suppose another example would be concluding that all Atheists are intolerant and hold ludicrous notions about religious practices simply because Hitchens exists.

    Mind you, I also suspect that there’s confusion about what we mean when we say “Islam is”. To me that means you’re saying that every Muslim is inherently like that, while it may be that you mean the way the religion is/is supposed to be practiced is like that. Some clarification would help here.

  255. #256 Glen Davidson
    May 12, 2008

    I agree completely. I only wish to add that we should be careful to not assume that groups identify without evidence, innocent until proven guilty and all that.

    While you assume guilt in commenters without evidence.

    I think this is what Emily meant way back when, but I seem to be reading her comment differently from you and Glen. If you don’t disagree with my first paragraph I’ll call this settled amicably.

    Wow, you mean you finally figured that out? The fact is that I don’t appreciate people like Emily assuming guilt where she provides no evidence, and doesn’t even deal with any specifics. It’s what we fault in the defamation of which IDists are guilty, and it’s what I fault in your evidence-free attacks.

    Sigh. I guess that means I should go try and figure out what I did to set Glen off.

    Yeah, it’s not like I haven’t told you repeatedly, while you repeated the same dull dishonest bullshit. You have to “figure it out”. Don’t bother, you’re obviously unable to comprehend even the simplest statements.

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

  256. #257 J
    May 12, 2008

    Hogwash. We knew that the invasion of Iraq was going to lead to a million dead. [Etc., etc.]
    First of all, no it wasn’t known. Personally I find it likely that the people calling the shots deceived themselves into believing that it would be a cakewalk. Second, it’s simply contemptible that you refuse to place most of the blame on the Muslims for, you know, actually doing the killing. It was the Bush Administration’s incompetence and aggressiveness that allowed the massacres to happen; this doesn’t mean that they themselves did the killing in cold blood.

    One of Europe’s most dastardly acts was retreating from their colonies after stealing everything that wasn’t nailed down and leaving their subjects for centuries to the tender mercies of the local thugs (think E. Timor, Burma, etc).
    I’m a European, and I’m not going to be fucking held responsible for the decisions of people who died before I was even born. There’s no reason for me to feel guilty as a result of their actions.

    Incidentally, most European colonies were utopias compared with a typical country under Sharia.

    I’m just laughing know. What would it take for an Islamic society to have the USA’s military power? Well, a significantly different economic and social system, for starters. A completely different historical relationship with Europe, and even a different geographical location.
    That’s a lousy dodge, and you know it. It’s quite easy to imagine a situation in which the Islamic nations have the superior military. If the rest of us became pacifists and entirely stopped spending on defense, such a world would soon arise.

    Of course, we know full well what they would do to us if we abolished the armed forces, so we wouldn’t even dream of it.

  257. #258 Etha Williams
    May 12, 2008

    @#241 Glen D –

    That’s a bit too little responsibility for the effects of ideas upon societies, and a bit too much responsibility given to religion when other issues might be playing a crucial role.

    One has to look at the teachings of the New Testament when discussing anti-Semitism in Xian cultures. OTOH, how much of imperialism can honestly be ascribed to Xianity, vs. simply understood as the result of greed and opportunism?

    I agree to a point, though in theocratic societies (which, to a large extent, today’s Iraq is), it is difficult to divorce religion from other issues. Also, though I agree that you can’t ascribe imperialism to Xian belief, you can critique the form of Xianity that gave rise to it for promoting a social structure and system of dogmatism that allowed such things to be justified. This is what I mean by considering organized religion as a social construct — organized religion includes more than just religious belief; it also includes the way that belief is (ab)used socially.

    That’s not to say that honor killings couldn’t occur without this form of Islam, but in this context, this form of Islam at least plays a part in allowing it to continue, and deserves criticism for that.

  258. #259 Glen Davidson
    May 12, 2008

    Sounds good to me, Etha.

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

  259. #260 Matt Penfold
    May 12, 2008

    “Your second statement is false. There ARE accidental killings. There are. We don’t intend on “collateral damage” any more than we intend on friendly fire. We knew they were/are going to happen, but that doesn’t make them any less accidental…or any less tragic. To try and say that they aren’t accidents is to nullify the amount of anguish they can cause shooters when they’re not made from cruise missiles, but rather from M4 rounds on the ground. And if you don’t think they cause anguish then I guess you’ve never seen a PFC just out of high school when he misses and puts a nice little round hole in the shoulder of a young girl who chose the wrong moment to step out of a doorway. I realize it’s off-topic. It needed to be said nonetheless.”

    I am sorry but killing civilians when they get caught up in “collateral damage” accidental does not cut it. If you drop a bomb you intend to kill, pure and simple. That civilians get killed may nit have been your intention but you do not get to claim it was an accident. Unless you really did not mean to drop the bomb in the first place. I doubt many examples of collateral damage are as the result of bombs being dropped unintentionally.

    And as for causing anguish, I am sure the person who pulled the trigger that led to civilian deaths does indeed suffer. But I would hazard a guess nothing like as much as the family of the person killed, and certainly not as much as the dead person would suffer were they still alive to indeed suffer. In fact it is probably a good thing that those who pull the trigger that leads to civilian deaths do indeed feel anguish. It might help stop others making the same mistake.

  260. #261 HeyZeusCreaseToe
    May 12, 2008

    Thanks for the downer of the day PZ. Mwaw Mwaw….

  261. #262 Marcus Ranum
    May 12, 2008

    (Here’s something to think about: Imagine what would happen to the world if an Islamic nation had at its disposal the USA’s military power.)

    They’d immediately attack Israel, and manage to lose anyway.

  262. #263 BobbDobbs
    May 12, 2008

    Hurray. As an atheist I have been depressed lately by the leftist PC wisdom to cut Islam undeserved slack on the basis of “cultural diversity.” Bull. I’m an atheist because it is rational and I am anti-religion because religion is irrational.

    If it is Christian fundamentalists trying to outlaw science or Islamic fundamentalists honor killing for showing too much ankle I am of the same mind. It must be resisted, it must be spoken against. It must be fought against.

  263. #264 J
    May 12, 2008

    This dishonest tactic is what makes me disinclined to trust what you say, rather than brainwashing from some bogeyman of yours.

    Please note that I don’t try to argue with the facts. I don’t know what’s true here. But I rather suspect you don’t either.
    You suspect I don’t know what’s true about what? The quotation from Sacranie? I think that’s the only point of interest in my earlier posts, to tell the truth. So what’s wrong? Are you contesting that quotation?

    I did not make a “very general statement about a very large group of people”. I indicated that I believe people (especially Americans) are inclined to overestimate the number of “moderate-by-ordinary standards” Muslims there are. I stand by this remark, and I’m quite happy to justify it if you have a problem with it.

  264. #265 J
    May 12, 2008

    The second paragraph there should be in italics.

  265. #266 Josh
    May 12, 2008

    I wasn’t talking about bombs. I specifically referenced that I wasn’t talking about bombs. I thought that was clear. I agree with you 100% when you’re talking about indirect fire. My point wasn’t about indirect fire.

    I also IN NO WAY insinuated that the families didn’t suffer. That also didn’t have anything to do with my point. That the shooter suffers far less than the dad suffers does not make the shot less accidental.

    “It might help stop others making the same mistake.”

    Were that it were so. It doesn’t seem that history is bearing that out very well.

  266. #267 Jams
    May 12, 2008

    @kid bitzer

    “it’s not a claim that men act a certain way *because they are men*, as though we’d have to extinguish y-chromosomes to get rid of it.” – kid bitzer

    I didn’t claim it did, but hey, why let language stand in the way of an argument. Moving on, Patriarchy is not a claim that “men act a certain way”. I’m listening.

    “rather, it’s the claim that certain men buy into an ideology that is beneficial to men. and of course that ideology can create a power-structure in which it is beneficial for certain women to buy into the lie as well.” – kid bitzer

    So, let me get this straight. Patriarchy is a claim that “certain men buy into an ideology” that “certain women” also buy into. This ideology results in a power-structure that is “beneficial to men” (I assume you mean “certain men”) and “beneficial for certain women”.

    In essence, there’s a power-structure in which certain men and certain women participate that benefits certain men and certain women at, I assume, certain times.

    That may be the single worst definition of Patriarchy ever. Needless to say, that’s not what Patriarchy means.

    The problem here is the application of the death penalty to petty infractions (I would say at all, but that’s me). This brutal application of force is not a result of gender biases, unless we’re going to argue that men in Iraq aren’t executed for ridiculous reasons. Why evoke Patriarchy, if not as a knee-jerk reaction to the gender of the participants?

  267. #268 Jsn
    May 12, 2008

    When I read about these “honor killings” my kneejerk reaction is too nuke ‘em all. I contemplate the horror of the innocents who would be “collateral damage” (I fucking HATE that term) I feel disgusted and helpless. The misguided believers in divine retribution have hollow comfort sure these bastards will wallow in some ridiculously grotesque eternal punishment. In the end, this Muslim fanatic and his buds will simply lose consciousness and cease to be. No Heaven, no Hell, no limbo. Our culture’s hijacked belief in Karma is impotent, this man and those like him will never be persecuted or prosecuted in their culture.
    Here in Texas, a muslim cab driver killed his daughters for becoming too westernized and many muslims here are sheilding him arrest. Funny, didn’t those fine christian folk help hide Eric Rudolph, the asshole who bombed abortion clinics and the Atlanta Olympic games? Fundamentalism breeds radicalism, no matter what the religion.

    The fact that progressive believers ignore huge portions of religious texts or rationalize them away as belonging to different time, different culture is telling: they want to believe despite the obvious cognitive dissonce – they are being willfully ignorant. All religions are deserving of a huge mea culpa over the inhumane acts done in the name of god(s).

  268. #269 01010100
    May 12, 2008

    Such booj-wah morality, Herr PZ. From a Darwinist perspective, couldn’t the killing be viewed as advancing the interests of other siblings, if not the tribe itself? Had she married the Brit., the tribal gene pool would have been diluted, weakened, etc. etc. Alpha wolves occasionally eat a few extra pups.

    I shallah!

  269. #270 Brownian, OM
    May 12, 2008

    For those confused by post #267, I believe the poster is the real Jsn, not the human hemorrhoid gunking up the internet round here as of late.

  270. #271 amk
    May 12, 2008

    I don’t think anyone up thread has discussed who exactly the Basra policemen are.

    During the recent attempt of the Iraqi government, alongside its Badr Brigade allies, to take control of Basra from the Sadrist Mahdi Army, much of the police and army deserted or even defected to the Sadrists. Since then, the police and army have been further bolstered by the inclusion of yet more Badr fighters. It was strongly Badr influenced anyway.

    The Badr Brigade is the militia of the “Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council”, the key ally of Prime Minister Da’wa party. Both the SIIC and Badr Brigade were formed in Iran from Iraqi exiles during Saddam’s era. Unsurprisingly, they are theocratic.

    The Sadr movement, and its Mehdi Army militia, is Iraqi nativist. It remained in Iraq during the Saddam years when the Da’wa and other parties fled, and Muqtada’s father was killed by Saddam. This lot are also theocratic.

    Also in Basra is the Islamic Virtue party, an offshoot of the Sadrist movement who followed Muqtada’s father but not Muqtada. They have their own militia.

    As such I expect the police in this story are one group or another of theocratic militia men.

    Unfortunately, the invasion of Iraq has removed a secular dictator only to replace it with a de facto theocracy, with rival theocrats, plus other conflicts.

    Freedom House’s 2007 Freedom In The World report still classes Iraq as “not free”, giving it the same score as Iran. It is not a worst possible score though, that being attained by Saddam’s Iraq.Today’s Saudi Arabia scores between old Iraq and new Iraq/Iran.

    Freedom House is largely funded (indirectly) by the US Government, and is often accused of being a pawn of US foreign policy.

    link

    The Saddam era police might have handled this matter (dare I say it?) better.

    Juan Cole is of course an excellent source for Mid East news.

  271. #272 Moggie
    May 12, 2008

    Someone (sorry, I can’t find it in this huge thread) raised the point that the apparent lack of moderate Muslims denouncing this and other atrocities is due to the media’s unwillingness to give them a voice. There is something to that, of course, but I’m reminded of Irshad Manji’s book The Trouble with Islam Today. Manji is a Canadian journalist, feminist, lesbian and liberal Muslim who seems passionately committed to highlighting misogyny and other problems in Islam, and encouraging Muslims to change it from within. But she has this to say in the book:

    The disapproving mail I would get as host of Queer Television illustrates what I mean. Any time I aired anti-gay comments from Bible-citing Christians, other Christians would be sure to follow up with rival, tolerant interpretations. That never happened when Muslims bawled me out. Apparently, there was no question that they spoke for Islam. All of it. Which is not to say that every last Muslim objects to homosexuals. Al-Fatiha (‘the opening’, which implies avant-garde) is a queer Muslim group with chapters in big cities across North America and Europe. In Toronto, at least, its annual dinner is attracting the attendance of some Muslim parents. But even if many Muslims don’t share the prejudices of mainstream Islam, neither do enough of us create conversations with the mainstream. How else to explain why not one Muslim wrote or called Queer Television with an alternate – compassionate – interpretation of the Quran?

    Manji knows more than most that moderate, decent Muslims do exist, and she’s in a position to give them a platform, but is seems she’s found that few of them even try to speak up. She’s trying to change that, but it’s a difficult task.

    (I suspect I’ve mentioned the book here before, but I recommend it again. It’s often an infuriating read for an atheist, but informative and humane, and even though I hope she eventually turns atheist, until then it’s good to see her giving the imams a hard time and emboldening other dissidents).

  272. #273 frog
    May 12, 2008

    JL
    me: Hogwash. We knew that the invasion of Iraq was going to lead to a million dead. [Etc., etc.]

    First of all, no it wasn’t known. Personally I find it likely that the people calling the shots deceived themselves into believing that it would be a cakewalk. Second, it’s simply contemptible that you refuse to place most of the blame on the Muslims for, you know, actually doing the killing. It was the Bush Administration’s incompetence and aggressiveness that allowed the massacres to happen; this doesn’t mean that they themselves did the killing in cold blood.

    Willful ignorance is a contemptible excuse. We have a long history of modern warfare – we know perfectly well what interruptions in vital services lead to, we know perfectly well the social effects of the disruptions, we can predict fairly well even the ensuing refugee flows. It is part and parcel of the process – just read a bit of Kissinger if you want to know what these folks think.

    Me: One of Europe’s most dastardly acts was retreating from their colonies after stealing everything that wasn’t nailed down and leaving their subjects for centuries to the tender mercies of the local thugs (think E. Timor, Burma, etc).

    I’m a European, and I’m not going to be fucking held responsible for the decisions of people who died before I was even born. There’s no reason for me to feel guilty as a result of their actions.
    Incidentally, most European colonies were utopias compared with a typical country under Sharia.

    You’re not? Then are you going to give up all your bennies? Are you going to return the profits from the slave trade to Africans, are you going to send all the churches to the Americas? It’s nice to sit fat and happy on five centuries of thievery and then claim to have no responsibility. If you want moral cleanliness, then split all the descendant companies of the Dutch East India Company over East India, split French profits over their colonies… and so on.

    And how do you imagine the bastards got in power? Because the European powers abandoned their colonies since they were unwilling to pay to create decent societies. What do you imagine would happen in any European country if half the country took all the infrastructure and then simply retreated from the rest? If you just impoverished southern France and then abandoned it when the locals got pissed off?

    Me: I’m just laughing know. What would it take for an Islamic society to have the USA’s military power? Well, a significantly different economic and social system, for starters. A completely different historical relationship with Europe, and even a different geographical location.
    That’s a lousy dodge, and you know it. It’s quite easy to imagine a situation in which the Islamic nations have the superior military. If the rest of us became pacifists and entirely stopped spending on defense, such a world would soon arise.
    Of course, we know full well what they would do to us if we abolished the armed forces, so we wouldn’t even dream of it.

    What’s lousy is making up strawmen. Abolish our armed forces? So, then I can argue that if magical pixies came and turned the Atlantic into a sea of gold, we all would live in happy Kumbaya land? It’s just as likely to happen, given 10 millenia of history. What nonsense, what self-satisfied drivel.

    No, the Muslims hordes aren’t coming except in your fantasies. They can barely feed their own people, and lack the infrastructure to develop modern weaponry. Iran is at best a decade away from developing 1940′s era weaponry.

  273. #274 Flex
    May 12, 2008

    At comment 211, Bill Dauphin wrote, “however, a secondary hypothesis is that the first and third factors in the equation (gender inequality and sexual shaming) are not independent of dominant creed.”

    While your equation is intriguing, I strongly suspect as you suggest, that the two other factors are not independent of creed.

    What I find interesting is your use of the term ‘dominant creed’. For your equation suggests that the religious factor isn’t really determined by the dominant creed, but how much religious authority has been embedded in secular authority. That is, a society could exist with a dominant religion, but because the religious beliefs are not enshrined in the law, the affect of such dominant religious belief is small. (Which is how I recall Turkey being in the late 1980′s when I was stationed there.)

    But, if we are simply looking at individual honor killings, it may well be that the secular authority is not important. That is, people who engage in honor killing may not be deterred by secular punishments. Instead, if the perpetrators of these heinous acts were severely punished, they would be seen as martyrs by the other proponents of this creed. In other words, the religious factor in your honor killing equation is really a matter of personal belief in how much the religious authority matters compared to the secular authority. Of course, if the controlling authorities tacitly agree with your particular religious tenets, then an outrageous event like this may go unpunished.

    The size of the society in question may be important to quantify here. A small cult in the USA might condone honor killings, but the majority of citizens of the USA would condemn them. The fact that in this case the secular authorities apparently condoned his activities suggests to me that these authorities should be considered members of the same society he identifies with. The size of that society, whether it includes all Muslims or a smaller subset of them, is a debate going on elsewhere in this comment thread.

    This also suggests that if there is a large discrepancy between the dominant creed of a nation and the secular laws of the nation, there will be some pressure within that society to harmonize these laws. (This pressure could also exist if the rulers of a country hold a minority creed in opposition to the secular laws of that country.) That is, there will be pressure to make all the citizens follow the strictures of the creed, or be treated like second class citizens.

    In other words, the nut jobs who feel that religious authority trumps secular authority will always apply pressure to establish (their) theocracy in any country.

  274. #275 Mena
    May 12, 2008

    Is anyone else finding it ironic that Randal Birkey and Abdel-Qader Ali get their morals from more or less the same exact place?
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ten_Commandments
    As for this being a religion thing, I don’t think that it is. They do it because the like having that power and are using religion to justify that just like fundies nowadays are using the “But I’m a creeeestian” whine to justify hating teh gay and being offensive in other ways. It’s just that most people don’t buy that crap here, they do in Iraq (and Afghanistan, Pakistan, etc). It’s like our buddy Ben Stein blaming the Holocaust on Darwin. The nutsies were sick fucks who managed to get most of the society to go along with their crimes. It’s the same with the people who live in societies who approve of honor killings.

  275. #276 Ted D
    May 12, 2008

    You suspect I don’t know what’s true about what? The quotation from Sacranie? I think that’s the only point of interest in my earlier posts, to tell the truth. So what’s wrong? Are you contesting that quotation?

    It’s very obvious that the veracity of the quote is not what I have a problem with. And if that’s the only point of interest, why include anything else in your comment? You were associating the statement of an individual with that of a group.

    I did not make a “very general statement about a very large group of people”. I indicated that I believe people (especially Americans) are inclined to overestimate the number of “moderate-by-ordinary standards” Muslims there are. I stand by this remark, and I’m quite happy to justify it if you have a problem with it.

    Posted by: J | May 12, 2008 4:10 PM

    OK, I stand corrected. You made a general statement about two very large groups of people, Americans and moderate Muslims. Now, I don’t know how many moderate Muslims there are (nor, frankly, do I much care). And I don’t know what “people” think about how many moderate Muslims there are. You have your opinion on that. I lean towards you being wrong about that opinion. But I have no statistics on the matter, and neither do you. I can live with that.

    My actual problem with your comment is, and I repeat myself here, that you start by discounting views not coinciding with yours as brainwashing by the “PC Brigade”. The “PC Brigade” is a favourite bogeyman of people unwilling or unable to support their arguments with actual facts.
    The other part of my problem is that you take a quote from a (according to you) moderate Muslim and use it as an example (your own word) of how moderate moderate Muslims are.
    You’re supporting your first statement (there aren’t as many moderate Muslims as “people” think) with a single quote from a single person. And now you’re saying that your first statement wasn’t the point, but the quote itself was. But that quote by itself has no bearing on anything whatsoever in this thread.
    And no, I’m not part of the PC Brigade. But your argument was sloppy at best, dishonest at worst.

  276. #277 MikeM
    May 12, 2008

    Matt, #239.

    That’s fine, but it still accepts at its core a ghost story (See: The Resurrection Myth). They still want to get you from here to There after you die.

    I still think that’s fundamentally whacky. It’s not moderate. So even the moderate ones want you to literally interpret a ghost story.

    In terms of using gods to rationalize/justify the killing of people who don’t agree with you, I’m not sure the track record of Christians is much different from the track record of Muslims… Even moderate Christians, which is why I keep putting “moderate” in quotes.

    If your religion allows you to justify mass murder, it probably isn’t moral. They keep telling us that only Christians have real morals; well, if the Bible documents how happy God is when the Jews slaughtered other people by the thousands, I just gotta wonder about that God.

    (Note that I doubt the veracity of the Bible stories where God has “his people” slaughter everything in sight. The Bible says a lot of stuff we’re sure is wrong; this is probably one of those things.)

  277. #278 amk
    May 12, 2008

    frog,

    So the European living standard isn’t still propped up by the after affects of colonialism?

    Don’t assume that it ever was.

    At the turn of the 20th century, the British economist J A Hobson calculated that the colonialism of the previous few decades had actually harmed the British economy. It did however serve to make the rich richer.

    link

  278. #279 Benjamin Geiger
    May 12, 2008

    Jsn@267:

    Funny, didn’t those fine christian folk help hide Eric Rudolph, the asshole who bombed abortion clinics and the Atlanta Olympic games? Fundamentalism breeds radicalism, no matter what the religion.

    It wasn’t just the fundamentalists that shielded him. Everyone turned a blind eye.

    (I grew up about twenty miles from where Rudolph was caught, so I saw the silliness firsthand.)

  279. #280 Matt Penfold
    May 12, 2008

    “That’s fine, but it still accepts at its core a ghost story (See: The Resurrection Myth). They still want to get you from here to There after you die.”

    I am not in disagreement with you here, although I might quibble over the extent to which the most liberal Anglicans believe in any kind of personal god any more. As with so many things there aroe not discrete groups when in all this. Suffice to say that if all religious people were like the most moderate Anglicans we would not get things like so-called honour killings, and intolerance by religious groups would be greatly diminished. In short the world would likely be a rather better place than it is now. Not perfect, but an improvement.

  280. #281 J
    May 12, 2008

    Willful ignorance is a contemptible excuse. We have a long history of modern warfare – we know perfectly well what interruptions in vital services lead to, we know perfectly well the social effects of the disruptions, we can predict fairly well even the ensuing refugee flows. It is part and parcel of the process – just read a bit of Kissinger if you want to know what these folks think.
    Sorry, there are no two ways about this one. Irresponsibly allowing for murder to happen is nowhere near the same as committing the murder yourself in cold blood. There is a reason why we don’t hold incompetent (or sinister) judges accountable for first-degree murder when they let a dangerous man loose who then goes on a rampage.

    Then are you going to give up all your bennies? Are you going to return the profits from the slave trade to Africans, are you going to send all the churches to the Americas? It’s nice to sit fat and happy on five centuries of thievery and then claim to have no responsibility. If you want moral cleanliness, then split all the descendant companies of the Dutch East India Company over East India, split French profits over their colonies… and so on.
    Pathetically naive. You’re tacitly playing into the long-falisified stereotype of the “happy savage”, as if civilized Europeans have been the only people in the world to invade and dominate other tribes. All societies have at their heart features which stem from human sinning. We can’t possibly throw into the trash everything with remote connection to something bad in the past, or there would be terrible chaos (all over the world, not just in Europe).

    Nothing about this implies that we’re all equally rotten. Unless you’re completely and utterly batshit, you should be able to tell the difference between:
    (a) Having a responsibility to condemn fellow Muslims killing their daughters for nothing, thus making it clear that “this is not what Islam stands for”.
    (b) Having a responsibility to apologize for colonial infractions of European governments, which occurred before you were even born.

    What’s lousy is making up strawmen. Abolish our armed forces? So, then I can argue that if magical pixies came and turned the Atlantic into a sea of gold, we all would live in happy Kumbaya land? It’s just as likely to happen, given 10 millenia of history. What nonsense, what self-satisfied drivel.
    Hey, if it weren’t for rogue states like North Korea and (to a much greater extent) almost every Islamic country on the planet, abolishing the armed forces would be a real possibility.

  281. #282 HungryAardvark
    May 12, 2008

    I feel compelled to say some obvious things, that most the posters here should, and in likelihood do, know.

    Some societies allow (even support) honor killings and many other horrible fucking things (killing female babies, genital mutilation, full-on genocide, etc). I am going to call these countries “Shitty Places to Live (SPL)”. Many SPLs also have strong religious beliefs. However these same societies are often poor, uneducated, and have reduced control over what happens in their lives, compared to a relativity rich western democracy. These are but a few of the possible confounds. So how then do we tell to what degree religion leads to/encourages fucked up things, and/or to what degree religion is simply a mirror, reflecting the behavioral tendencies of the group.

    Now if we had some fairy dust, we could take away religion (and only religion) from a few SPLs, and non-SPLs, see what happens. Then with some more fairy dust add religion back in, see what happens. After this we _might_ be able to draw casual conclusions. This experiment is, of course, not doable.

    We could compare different SPLs (and non-SPLs), and see how degree and type of religion correlates with levels of violence, bigotry, etc. Or someone could monitor developing SPLs to see how various changes in culture, economic conditions, religion, effects the amount fucked up things happening. However even in finding incredibly strong correlations, we could say nothing about causation. I do not know, and could google could not find, any studies of either type (if anyone know of such a thing, please post a link). And after reading the 270 (or so) comments no one cited such a piece of research. Instead, lots of appealing to preferred pieces of anecdotal evidence.

    For a group whose defining characteristic is evidence-based beliefs, you (well I anyway) might hope that in a discussion you would see some evidence of deriving belief from evidence. If you have no solid evidence, then either be cautious in the claims you make, or be silent. I know, I know, this is not the way of the internet.

    I am not sure how to design an experiment that would be capable of establishing a casual link between religion and fucked up things — suggestions appreciated.

  282. #283 J
    May 12, 2008


    But how evil were all those roads, railways, telegraph lines, farms, sewage systems, modern technology, police service, etc.! Verily, European colonialism was undeniably a relentless and systematic force for the direst evil.

  283. #284 Bill Dauphin
    May 12, 2008

    What I find interesting is your use of the term ‘dominant creed’. For your equation suggests that the religious factor isn’t really determined by the dominant creed, but how much religious authority has been embedded in secular authority.

    Yah, I’m afraid I made a few simplifying assumptions, starting with the assumption that virtually all of the religious authority in a society would be funneled through a single dominant “creed” (which need not necessarily coincide with a formal denomination). Societies with multiple religions roughly equal in influence would clearly be more complex… but my observation is that such societies are often so busy tearing themselves apart in civil strife that so-called honor killings may be lost in the noise.

    That is, a society could exist with a dominant religion, but because the religious beliefs are not enshrined in the law, the affect of such dominant religious belief is small. (Which is how I recall Turkey being in the late 1980′s when I was stationed there.)

    But, if we are simply looking at individual honor killings, it may well be that the secular authority is not important. That is, people who engage in honor killing may not be deterred by secular punishments.

    I specifically didn’t mean my ratio of authorities to apply to formal law; rather, I was looking for a synthetic factor reflecting the effective authority held by religion in a society, regardless of the means by which that social power is projected.

    I also meant to be quantifying the risk of honor killing as a more-or-less accepted social institution; I wasn’t trying to account for the actions of individual crazy fanatics, which you could find in any society.

    The size of the society in question may be important to quantify here. A small cult in the USA might condone honor killings, but the majority of citizens of the USA would condemn them.

    Indeed. Any detailed version of my ratio of authorities would have to include some sort of dilution subfactor.

  284. #285 J
    May 12, 2008

    OK, I stand corrected. You made a general statement about two very large groups of people, Americans and moderate Muslims. Now, I don’t know how many moderate Muslims there are (nor, frankly, do I much care). And I don’t know what “people” think about how many moderate Muslims there are. You have your opinion on that. I lean towards you being wrong about that opinion. But I have no statistics on the matter, and neither do you. I can live with that.
    No, I do have statistics, and I don’t know why you would assume otherwise. Many polls have been done on British Muslims (we hear about this all the time over here). The results are generally alarming, to say the least.

    On top of that, there’s a somewhat deeper evidence, which I alluded to briefly. There are supposedly moderate organizations like the Muslim Council of Britain, whose leading officials are known to make bigoted remarks. And then there’s the observation that these people seem to get most excited not when there’s an honour killing, but when Islam is allegedly insulted.

    All of this makes me strongly suspect that genuine Muslim moderates aren’t as ubiquitous as many people tend to assume. I say “especially Americans” because America isn’t plagued with Islamic barbarism in the same way Europe is.

  285. #286 LeeLeeOne
    May 12, 2008

    You morons! You absolute morons!

    This is all morphed into arguments regarding, the bottom line, economics and social standings?

    This article brought to light the murder of a daughter by her own father, brothers, and mother.

    No forbearance should even be discussed! No excuses, no explanations, no allowances – He Murdered His Daughter; They Murdered Their Sister, She Murdered Her daughter.

    Bring this conversation back to the murder; the cold-blooded, premeditated, heartless, torture-murder of an innocent. And as a mother of many, I hold this woman just as responsible for the murder of her daughter by proxy; this mother put her own foot to her own daughter’s throat.

    We know why this conversation is being held in blogs; blogs will never see the front page of the New York times or the Republican, or the Washington Post or Reuters or The Guardian or the New Scientist or Fox, or even the Boston Globe for that matter! It will never be addressed and by the Government of the United States or any other government directly. Unless, perhaps, if enough of us continue to scream loudly – this is murder, period, and NO excuses.

  286. #287 valor
    May 12, 2008

    @ Matt Penfold, #196

    I was in no way pardoning such behavior by stating that it has historical background. I was attempting to perhaps assert that even though we associate this behavior with Muslims, it might be more accurately pinned on Arabs. (Again, not trying to be racist)This is much less common in non-Arab Muslims.

    As to my use of the phrase “honor killings” I use it because it is the most clear description of the phenomenon. I could, yes, have used patriarchally motivated gynocide, but we all knew what I meant by the term “honor killing”. Plus, I’m rather a fan of irony.

  287. #288 MikeM
    May 12, 2008

    Completely off-topic technical question:

    In post #282, in the second blockquote, there’s a paragraph break there. How come the line spacing is so much greater on the subsequent paragraphs than it is on the first?

    Sorry, I just had to ask, because it’s been driving me crazy. css bug?

  288. #289 Matt Penfold
    May 12, 2008

    Hungry Aardvark,

    Poverty certainly has something to do with it, although you do not need to go far to find a rich nation that has a significant proportion of its population believe things that are batshit insane. I refer of course to the US. So GDP alone is not proof against religious stupidity, but it would certainly seem to help if Europe is anything to go by. Western Europe tends to have living standards that are on a par with those found in the US, and yet nothing like the degree of religiosity in either personal belief or religious involvement in the state. Ireland for example has become richer over the last 20 years whilst at the same time becoming increasingly less dependent on the Catholic Church. The situation in the US would tend to suggest that religiosity, if it is connected with poverty (and I suspect it is) depends not only on GDP but on the distribution of wealth. We do need to consider the possibility in that in countries with an adequate welfare support system religious groups provide needed support.

    So in short, I am not at all clear if we can ever differentiate how religion and poverty are related but in many ways it does not really matter. A liberal society where people can get a decent education regardless of parental income, where becoming seriously ill will not bankrupt you, and where you will not face pecuniary in your old age are good things anyway, and if they lead to a loosening of the hold of religion, so much the better.

  289. #290 Jams
    May 12, 2008

    “I also meant to be quantifying the risk of honor killing as a more-or-less accepted social institution” – Bill Dauphin

    I would say that the dominant factor in normalizing honor killing is the normalization of killing. If cutting off hands is a reasonable punishment stealing fruit, why not honor killings? If execution is a reasonable punishment for any and every offense, why not honor killings?

    Honor Killing would immediately becomes not quite so abhorrent if it was Honor go-to-your-rooming.

  290. #291 Matt Penfold
    May 12, 2008

    “I was in no way pardoning such behavior by stating that it has historical background. I was attempting to perhaps assert that even though we associate this behavior with Muslims, it might be more accurately pinned on Arabs. (Again, not trying to be racist)This is much less common in non-Arab Muslims.”

    Actually, I am not entirely sure it is less common in non-Arab Muslims. I do know it is an issue within the British Muslim population, which is overwhelmingly from the Indian Sub-Continent. It is also not unknown amongst non-muslims from the same region. Some Hindu castes (and it is a very caste-bound religion), often the less advantaged ones, are also known to perform such killings.

  291. #292 Monado
    May 12, 2008

    PZ, don’t count on the mother being opposed. There was a Canadian girl in B.C. who may have been murdered in India on her mother’s orders when she wouldn’t marry an aged friend of the family. They can’t see the child for the reputation.

    The number actually killed may be small, but growing up knowing that Father or Mother can and will kill you if you step out of line has to be pretty fucking terrifying.

  292. #293 valor
    May 12, 2008

    I haven’t been considering British Muslims. I will look into this. You have a good point. Of course, then we face the obvious problem with the integration of monotheistic religions (which are very low-caste in India) with the extremely rigid caste system…. I can’t even begin to contemplate how to consider the effect that might have. Of course, there are P.M.Gs in Hindu India, too (widow-burning and the its disgusting cousin dowry-hostage burning). So that’s a whole other can of worms.

    But you’re right that I hadn’t considered the Sub-Continent Muslims. I will see.

  293. #294 Hematite
    May 12, 2008

    Sorry for the long post, nothing to see here really.

    OK, Emily’s post at #71 which Glen takes such exception to:

    Before condemning Islam you might like to visit some Islamic communities in Fiji and New Zealand.

    Glen reads ‘you’ as referring to PZ, or perhaps the thread in general. I read ‘you’ as referring to those who condemn all of Islam, namely #4 and #8, also this is a common theme in mass media reports on various atrocities committed by muslims. She did not state who she was directing the comment at, but it seems only fair to assume she was talking to people who condemn Islam since that’s what she’s arguing against. The comment works equally well if directed at the cruel world.

    Religion interacts with other aspects in the culture. The Muslims I know would be just as disgusted by this atrocity.

    She wishes to draw a distinction between a purely religious motivation and one which is a combination of religion and culture. She asserts that she knows muslims from a different cultural background (but with the same nominal religion) who would not condone this murder. Hardly a peer-reviewed paper, but one anecdote is enough to introduce an idea.

    Even as a lifelong atheist and full time scientist I am increasingly disinterested in visiting a blog that contains rampant hated speech against a religious ‘enemy’ and stereotype an entire wolrd religion.

    I read the ‘blog’ as referring to the comments as well as PZ’s posts, PZ is well known for his opposition to religion and there are always commenters who are willing to make stronger statements than he does.

    How is this different to what is done in Expelled and other digusting propagandas of distortion?

    I read ‘this’ as ‘foisting responsibility for an atrocity on an unrelated group of people (all muslims, notably those in New Zealand and Fiji who she is familiar with) in order to demonize them’. I think this statement is a huge stretch and is unsupportable – which is why I don’t support it.

    From her comment I take the following: (1) Not all muslims should be held accountable for this murder because this murder was facilitated by a combination of culture and religion (2) She is disappointed at the way this blog characterises religion.

    Matt Penfold (#83) started with this:

    You would have a point had the authorities in Basra put the man of trial for the murder of his daughter, and had the religious authorities in that city condemned his actions.

    Matt reads Emily’s comment differently from how I do. He quite rightly points out that the muslim hierarchy in Iraq is actively supporting this crime, by which I take him to mean that guilt attaches to them. By my reading of Emily’s comment, she accepts that guilt attaches to the Iraqi muslims, but does not accept that it attaches to muslims in other countries which have a different cultural component. This is why I think there was a misunderstanding at this point, and why I posted in reply to Matt at #135.

    When I said “It’s a different kind of Islam, and whether you still oppose it or not it’s ridiculous to blindly equate it with fundamentalist honour killings” I did not mean to imply that Matt had blindly equated the two – where I said ‘you’ I should have said ‘one’ to avoid confusion. I support the sentiment (1) I read from emily’s post, which is supported by my own experience, that there are flavours of Islam which are not fundamentalist and should not naturally be blamed for this crime.

    In a further post where I said “On the other hand, you can take muslim theology and transplant it to a western culture and it becomes as innocuous as moderate Chrisitianity.” I really should have said ‘..and it can become as innocuous as moderate Christianity”. I overstated my point and Matt was quite right to call me on it.

    Frankly, I think everything I’ve recorded here was entirely justified and I’ve owned up honestly to the mistakes I made. The rest is Glen being an asshole. Note that this is the first time I have insulted Glen despite the choice but repetitive and misapplied words he has for me.

    Glen, I’m not particularly interested in anything you have to say at this point. If any of the other commenters here take issue with my behaviour I am more than willing to make amends as best I can. I pride myself on arguing honestly and trying to reach consenus rather than score points. Glen has done nothing to convince me that I have done otherwise.

  294. #295 Matt Penfold
    May 12, 2008

    “We know why this conversation is being held in blogs; blogs will never see the front page of the New York times or the Republican, or the Washington Post or Reuters or The Guardian or the New Scientist or Fox, or even the Boston Globe for that matter! It will never be addressed and by the Government of the United States or any other government directly. Unless, perhaps, if enough of us continue to scream loudly – this is murder, period, and NO excuses.”

    I am not aware of anyone here offering excuses for this man’s actions, and for the lack of action of the part of the authorities in Basra. I would think all here are sicked by this murder. Certainly anyone who is not, does not really belong in polite society.

    However refusing to excuse an action is the same thing as looking for an explanation for why that action took place. In fact I would argue we have duty to try and understand what caused this man to murder to his daughter, so that we can try to prevent other women being killed. We would not think a doctor who researched the causes of cancer to in way think cancer is a good thing for a person to have. Likewise, we should not confuse trying to understand the causes of violence to be supportive in anyway of that violence. Sitting around condemning the actions of this man is fine, but not if we fail to act to prevent similar acts happening in the future.

  295. #296 frog
    May 12, 2008

    Amk:
    Me: So the European living standard isn’t still propped up by the after affects of colonialism?

    Don’t assume that it ever was.

    Good point. However, the differential was propped up by empire – even if the absolute standard of living wasn’t improved by empire.

    J:

    On the other hand, with J, we finally find what’s up: “All societies have at their heart features which stem from human sinning.” Another religious imbecile whose entire argument is a rationalization for his religious pre-conceptions.

    No, the colonial era is not over. No, you aren’t to blame for what happened three centuries ago – but you are to blame for deluding yourself into believing that your lifestyle and political power isn’t built on what happened over the last century. That your shoes and pants and shirts most likely come from a third world slave, who is a slave to you because of that history.

    No one is claiming the “happy savage” – once again with the strawmen. It’s the smug moral superiority that is being condemned. The problems of SE Asia before colonialism were the problems of SE Asia – but once the European powers took over, they volunteered for the responsibility. If you don’t want it anymore, then return the stuff – pay your bills, and then you can wash your hands of the after-effects.

    Then the most stupendous idiocy: But how evil were all those roads, railways, telegraph lines, farms, sewage systems, modern technology, police service, etc..

    Yes, you gave all of those away for free. You were invited in, and begged to give those things. What an ass. The roads were built by your subjects, the telegraphs were put in by those people on their labor. You weren’t shipping in British aristocrats to dig the ditches! Those things belong to those people – the most you can claim credit to is the original invention.

    So you ask people who have nothing to do with Iraq, British born Muslims, who are in no way benefiting from the cruel acts in Iraq, to condemn what happens there; but your lazy fat ass is too delicate to condemn the parts of the world order that benefit you. No one argues to abandon everything, since no one with a mind imagines we can undo time (except in your fevered religious imagination). Millions can die from your policies, but they are just “collateral damage”, without any blood on your hands, but some sons-of-bitches kill their daughters and suddenly people half a world away are responsible?

    Never does the complete amorality of the religious cease to amaze! At least the monster in Iraq had the cojones to claim his moral responsibility, rather than believe that because the buttons are being pushed at a statistical level, somehow that absolves them of the reality.

  296. #297 HungryAardvark
    May 12, 2008

    Matt @ 289,

    I do tend to think that poverty and religion are intertwined, along with possibly other important cultural stuff (my bias in this is more towards the idea that people who little apparent control of their lives will find dogmatic religion appealing, thus rationalizing away their state of affairs as a good thing). And I also agree that that disassociating them may not be necessary to reduce religious belief. It might help though. What I do take exception to is the rampant blaming religion (and/or societal forces) as being the cause when we lack sufficient evidence either way. To be obvious again, societies are complex networks – complex networks that we lack (as far as I know) good models for.

    I have no problem with speculation, but for so many to, apparently, think they _know_ what causes fucked up things to happen, how the many variables of a society interact, is disheartening, and quite out of line with the ideals of skeptical inquiry.

  297. #298 Etha Williams
    May 12, 2008

    @#284 LeeLeeOne –

    No forbearance should even be discussed! No excuses, no explanations, no allowances – He Murdered His Daughter; They Murdered Their Sister, She Murdered Her daughter.

    Bring this conversation back to the murder; the cold-blooded, premeditated, heartless, torture-murder of an innocent.

    No one here has excused what these people said, nor said that it should be allowed; however, explanation is important. How can one address a problem without understanding its cause? What kind of useful discussion could be had by “bringing this conversation back to the murder” without offering possible explanations?:

    “Oh yes, it was very heartless.”

    “Yes, premiditated.”

    “How awful.”

    “Really, just terrible.”

    “What horrible, horrible people!”

    “Inexcusable.”

    All true, but neither interesting nor very constructive.

  298. #299 valor
    May 12, 2008

    Well, I’m having difficulty locating statistics on this, probably because nobody is prosecuted for them…
    Even the WHO is pretty silent on this. But thank you, Matt, for pointing out the flaw in my reasoning.

  299. #300 raven
    May 12, 2008

    Randy Birky:

    “My wife and I went and saw the newly released movie ‘Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed’ last night, and I’ve got to say it is one of the best movies I’ve seen in a long time.”

    Now I understand. You’re a Christian moron.

    “You’re a Christian moron.” Naw, he is a Death Cultist with a brain the size of a walnut. The difference between a Xian fundie cultist and a Moslem killer is…..well, what is the difference?

    Randy, why are you posting nonsense on the internet? Don’t you have an MD or evolutionary biologist to assasinate or a democracy called the USA to destroy or something? You’ve wasted half the day already.

  300. #301 Ted D
    May 12, 2008

    All of this makes me strongly suspect that genuine Muslim moderates aren’t as ubiquitous as many people tend to assume. I say “especially Americans” because America isn’t plagued with Islamic barbarism in the same way Europe is.

    Posted by: J | May 12, 2008 5:37 PM

    You know, I’m just going to go ahead and call you a xenophobic dimwit now. Europe isn’t plagued by Islamic barbarism. How do I know this? I’m European too. Sure, there are problems with Islam here. Possibly greater than the problems with other religions here, though I wouldn’t bet too much on that, Christianity is well ingrained here and still has great potential for harm. But we’re bloody well not “plagued with Islamic barbarism” other than in the minds of frightened little people cowering behind their self-imposed ignorance. The people who are most hurt by Islam are Muslims. Muslim women being oppressed, Muslim men being brought up to think that it’s an honourable thing to kill their daughters. But except for some groups of fanatical nutjobs, Europe isn’t threatened by Islam to a greater extent than by Christianity. And while both religions, and others, are indeed harmful to our society, screaming that the Islamic barbarians are coming to get us is about as useful as me arguing with you right now.

  301. #302 John
    May 12, 2008

    usually when someone does something wrong they feel guilt- this man doesn’t have any guilt due to the justification his religion provides- that is the real sick part of this (asside from the killing part)

  302. #303 J
    May 12, 2008

    Another religious imbecile whose entire argument is a rationalization for his religious pre-conceptions.
    Fucking moron. I’m a steadfast atheist, and I haven’t faintly indicated anywhere that I have any religious tendencies in me whatever. So once again, not only are you wrong, but you couldn’t be more wrong.

    No, the colonial era is not over. No, you aren’t to blame for what happened three centuries ago – but you are to blame for deluding yourself into believing that your lifestyle and political power isn’t built on what happened over the last century. That your shoes and pants and shirts most likely come from a third world slave, who is a slave to you because of that history.
    Yeah, and this is a fundamental feature of all societies in the world: they have features that are based on human sinning. Humans are savage creatures, and at almost all times in the past it has been the norm to commit acts that we would now consider sinful. This univeral property of human societies, which is by no means unique to modern Europe, isn’t of the tiniest smidgen of relevance here.

    Yes, you gave all of those away for free. You were invited in, and begged to give those things. What an ass. The roads were built by your subjects, the telegraphs were put in by those people on their labor. You weren’t shipping in British aristocrats to dig the ditches! Those things belong to those people – the most you can claim credit to is the original invention.
    Well, leaving aside the fact that none of those things would have been built for at least hundreds of years if it weren’t for European colonization…I’m not claiming that colonization was entirely for the good of mankind. Maybe, though, it was for the net good (scholars continue to debate that up to this day), which is a lot more than you can say about Islam.

    Never does the complete amorality of the religious cease to amaze!
    I don’t know whether you actually believe this unsupported conclusion about me, or whether it’s a shamelessly stunt design to turn people against me before I get a chance to defend myself against these absurdly false charges.

  303. #304 J
    May 12, 2008

    “…shameless stunt designed to turn people against me”, that’s supposed to read.

  304. #305 Ichthyic
    May 12, 2008

    I have no problem with speculation, but for so many to, apparently, think they _know_ what causes fucked up things to happen, how the many variables of a society interact, is disheartening, and quite out of line with the ideals of skeptical inquiry.

    first off, I fail to see the relevance of adding that last bit.

    However, on the issue of poverty and religion…

    The best way to lose all is to cling with desperation to that which cannot possibly be sustained literally.

    -Bishop John Shelby Spong

    I tend to agree that when religion meets desperation, the results can be disastrous.

    However, I don’t think it’s that poverty and religion are necessarily intertwined, it’s that when they ARE intertwined, it almost always results in something negative.

    Just to be clear, if that is related to what is happening here, the intertwining of desperation and religious dogma happened long before the event documented in this thread took place. Not to say it isn’t maintained and even bolstered by current events in the region.

  305. #306 MB
    May 12, 2008

    Boy, Glen D.’s in a mood today – I don’t remember seeing so many obscenities out of him – or did I miss some threads where he was this excitable? Go get ‘em Glen!

    Where’s Nullfidian when the Islamic apologists need him?

    For those of you whining about this biologist’s obvious anti-Mulsim bigotry…

    He doesn’t like religion (ever read this blog?). That’s religion, not just Islam. This is an extreme example of religion’s negative impact on society.

    Try to separate the (mostly) right wing incited anti-Islam hatred in the west from ANY critcism of religion. Islam is not ok or exempt from criticism simply because some (mostly) right wing Christian shitbags want to whip up a frenzy of hatred around Muslims for the right-wing political agenda (and see our Dutch friend Geert).

    By the same token, get a grip at the other end – take a chill pill, Michelle. Silent Muslims are not “ALL WOMEN HATING MURDERERS DUE TO YOUR SILENCE.” any more than Americans are “ALL WOMEN HATING MURDERERS DUE TO YOUR SILENCE” because this wouldn’t have happened without the US imposing the current situation on Iraq making this possible.

    The Muslims I know would be happy to condemn this and most certainly would if they knew about it. Especially my atheist Muslim friends. But they’re not Muslims, you say? Tell that to the dickheads incited by the (mostly) right wing Muslim haters whipping up anti-Muslim hysteria in my wonderful, intolerant country.

    So the “moderate” Muslims might be more like our creationist Christian friends. Gee, THAT makes their religion ok…

  306. #307 J
    May 12, 2008

    You know, I’m just going to go ahead and call you a xenophobic dimwit now. Europe isn’t plagued by Islamic barbarism. How do I know this? I’m European too. Sure, there are problems with Islam here.
    Well I’m clearly not xenophobic, or I would be anti-foreigner (which I’m certainly not) rather than specifically anti-Islam.

    Many Europeans, including the people like Salman Rushdie and the Danish cartoonists who’ve had their lives to a large extent ruined due to their daring to say something about Islam, would wholly disagree with you. I think we’ll leave it there, unless you want to challenge me on some factual issue.

  307. #308 Matt Penfold
    May 12, 2008

    “I do tend to think that poverty and religion are intertwined, along with possibly other important cultural stuff (my bias in this is more towards the idea that people who little apparent control of their lives will find dogmatic religion appealing, thus rationalizing away their state of affairs as a good thing). And I also agree that that disassociating them may not be necessary to reduce religious belief. It might help though. What I do take exception to is the rampant blaming religion (and/or societal forces) as being the cause when we lack sufficient evidence either way. To be obvious again, societies are complex networks – complex networks that we lack (as far as I know) good models for.”

    Religion does not exist in a vacuum, as you agree. People do obtain their religious views through a number of sources, mainly parents but also, and importantly, from those in positions of religious authority. I am sure you agree that people in positions of authority have a greater duty of responsibility to oppose actions such as the killing of this girl than do those who are in authority. This man clearly lives in a society where killing your daughter because she happens to develop a crush on a British soldier is somehow acceptable, if not the norm. Those in religious authority in Basra, along with the man himself and the civil authorities, have a lot to answer for. It is important to note that he did not blame living in poverty, or being oppressed as reasons for killing his daughter. He cited that he was the will of his god. If that was all there was, and the authorities had prosecuted him for murder we could write him of as being insanely deluded. The fact that he was congratulated by the police, and released after a mere two hours in custody strongly supports the idea that this type of killing is considered acceptable.

    The idea that killing your daughter for such a reason did not come from a void. It came from religious teachings, and we cannot escape that fact no matter how uncomfortable it makes us feel around our liberal Muslim friends.

    A good number of the posters here are scientists. Can they, when a scientist acts unethically, try to claim that they were not a real scientist anyway ? Well they could try, but I rather suspect they, and PZ, would be very vocal in their criticism of such a scientist, and accept that he person acting badly was a scientist and the fact he acted badly reflects badly on all science. They would also be highly critical of those should have noticed the scientist going bad, and the systems that failed to stop him. This is not just conjecture on my part. PZ has come out and said all this, and recently, over the issue of a paper that had passed peer-review and seemed to be pushing an ID agenda.

  308. #309 Colugo
    May 12, 2008

    A thread like this reveals the fault lines in the progressive/freethinker blogosphere, highlighting the cause that primarily animates each faction:

    1) anti-imperialism: Western capitalist imperialism is worse than Islamism; in fact, it is the main driver of Islamism.

    2) anti-theism: Christian fundies and Jewish Zionists are just as bad as Islamists; God-belief is the real enemy.

    3) anti-jihadism: Islamism is the greatest current threat to liberal values.

  309. #310 Glen Davidson
    May 12, 2008

    Glen reads ‘you’ as referring to PZ, or perhaps the thread in general.

    Again, you’re utterly dishonest and stupid. She condemned “a blog” (clearly referring to this one), then didn’t differentiate further. To blame the “blog” suggests that she’s blaming PZ, though probably others as well.

    You’re a lying asshole, Hematite. Your pathetic level of reading comprehension doesn’t do anything to save you from that conclusion.

    I read ‘you’ as referring to those who condemn all of Islam, namely #4 and #8, also this is a common theme in mass media reports on various atrocities committed by muslims.

    That’s because you’re dishonest. One should take a general condemnation as general, especially so when she condemns the blog at large. But then, you’re stupid, as well as prevaricating.

    She did not state who she was directing the comment at, but it seems only fair to assume she was talking to people who condemn Islam since that’s what she’s arguing against. The comment works equally well if directed at the cruel world.

    Well, mindless asshole, PZ does condemn Islam, and religion in general. So you just came up with a mendacious “argument” to claim that she wasn’t complaining about PZ, only to fall on your ass, due to your ignorance, idiocy, and dishonesty.

    Religion interacts with other aspects in the culture. The Muslims I know would be just as disgusted by this atrocity.

    Once again, you make your straw whore. Fuck her on your own time, cretin.

    She wishes to draw a distinction between a purely religious motivation and one which is a combination of religion and culture. She asserts that she knows muslims from a different cultural background (but with the same nominal religion) who would not condone this murder. Hardly a peer-reviewed paper, but one anecdote is enough to introduce an idea.

    Fuckwit, that wasn’t at issue in her general condemnation and stereotyping, unless she was lying about many who were innocent of such lies. Same with your lies.

    Even as a lifelong atheist and full time scientist I am increasingly disinterested in visiting a blog that contains rampant hated speech against a religious ‘enemy’ and stereotype an entire wolrd religion.

    I read the ‘blog’ as referring to the comments as well as PZ’s posts, PZ is well known for his opposition to religion and there are always commenters who are willing to make stronger statements than he does.

    And you said above that you read it as referring to those who condemn that religion, which in fact PZ does. I mentioned in a previous post that you’re fucked on those grounds as well as in all of your other lies and stupidity.

    How is this different to what is done in Expelled and other digusting propagandas of distortion?

    I read ‘this’ as ‘foisting responsibility for an atrocity on an unrelated group of people (all muslims, notably those in New Zealand and Fiji who she is familiar with) in order to demonize them’.

    And since you’re stupid, never getting anything right, who cares about this particular speciousness that you’re spouting now? You’re an inane and vacuous moron.

    I think this statement is a huge stretch and is unsupportable – which is why I don’t support it.

    Like I said, who cares? Competent people have already weighed in on this.

    From her comment I take the following: (1) Not all muslims should be held accountable for this murder because this murder was facilitated by a combination of culture and religion (2) She is disappointed at the way this blog characterises religion.

    Well, dumbshit, these are exactly the lies that we objected to, and which you supported. Thanks for pointing out yet again that you’re an ass.

    [A bunch of tiresome repetition and specious claims from the idiot Hematite deleted]

    Frankly, I think everything I’ve recorded here was entirely justified and I’ve owned up honestly to the mistakes I made.

    Actually, I don’t see that a single thing you’ve written was justified, other than you admitting a few of your mistakes. You’ve added to your lies and exhibition of incompetence at dealing with these matters in the above portion, such as you being too stupid to recognize that PZ does fault the Islamic religion.

    The rest is Glen being an asshole. Note that this is the first time I have insulted Glen despite the choice but repetitive and misapplied words he has for me.

    Yeah, you know why? Because you know that you’re lying, while I know that whatever insults I throw at your fuckwitted bullshit hit close enough to the mark. Oh, but you’re running a concern troll attack, hence you think you’re put upon by my calling you the retarded a-hole that you are.

    Glen, I’m not particularly interested in anything you have to say at this point.

    Of course you’re not, you always made your own straw whore and fucked her, rather than trying to understand anything or to begin to be honest. Why would you give up your prevarications and a-holery at this point?

    If any of the other commenters here take issue with my behaviour I am more than willing to make amends as best I can.

    Obviously not, you lie no matter what. The only justification you have for that are that you’re so stupid that you don’t even notice when I tell you something you should know already, which is that PZ does blame Islam as a religion itself. Which is why you end up with such ludicrous distortions of what Emily said, and apparently meant (sure, she might be as ignorant as you are, but that’s as much her fault as your ignorance is).

    I pride myself on arguing honestly and trying to reach consenus rather than score points.

    Wow, you haven’t even started to be honest. Are there new colors in your never-land?

    Glen has done nothing to convince me that I have done otherwise.

    And so it goes with blithering idiots.

    Glen Davidson
    http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

  310. #311 valor
    May 12, 2008

    @307

    I think we’re seeing some good examples of anti-reactionaries here too.

  311. #312 Glen Davidson
    May 12, 2008

    Boy, Glen D.’s in a mood today – I don’t remember seeing so many obscenities out of him – or did I miss some threads where he was this excitable? Go get ‘em Glen!

    Oh come on, you think it’s emotion?

    The fact is that dishonest gits like Hematite and Alex aren’t worthy of treatment as if they were reasonable people deserving of polite treatment. They come in with stereotypes and rank lies that make honest discussion impossible, just as the IDiots do, and thus are worthy only of contempt.

    I’ll treat honest questioners with respect. Just not these self-righteous jackasses who can’t understand anything no matter how plainly you lay things out. I run into too many of these people, who justify all of their lying attacks on the “fact” that you are as they have claimed. Why should they care that they can’t support a single accusation that they’ve made?

    Hematite doesn’t even understand that PZ is against Islam (but not against all Muslims) even though I plainly tell him the truth about it. Instead he spins an entirely fallacious claim based on the notion that PZ is not against Islam.

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

  312. #313 frog
    May 12, 2008

    J: I’m a steadfast atheist, and I haven’t faintly indicated anywhere that I have any religious tendencies in me whatever. So once again, not only are you wrong, but you couldn’t be more wrong.

    I find it difficult to believe you. Particular hatred of competing monotheism: check. Use of religious language: check. Smugness and assumption of moral superiority on the basis of random heritage: check. Asinine inability to recognize moral failings: check. At minimum, a very Kiplingesque atheist. The whole world cries for your white man’s burden!

    “Net benefit of colonialism”. My Lordy, what arrogant BS. We should all pray for the kind ministrations of foreign invaders. You do know that this is the exact same claim that Islam makes for itself, don’t you? That their colonial forays were only to improve the lot of the poor benighted darkies (and whities) who were trapped in their neolithic ignorance? With atheists like you, who needs fundies? This is the claim of every imperialist throughout human history, from Alexander to Hitler – “We’re just doing a humanitarian intervention!” Europeans were begged to stay, weren’t they? Weren’t they?

    Let me challenge you – give me the “net benefits” of slavery. You can do it, I’m sure you’ve thought of it… Plenty of Americans have tried to make the claim, I’m sure a European can do just as well. I have faith in you!

  313. #314 Dwight
    May 12, 2008

    As a liberal protestant, I find it odd to be told that I don’t take my religion seriously or with care. Apparently only the most obnoxious acts and behaviors are allowed to be considered as religious by some.

    But that means ignoring not only relevant texts in the scriptures (the Sermon on the Mount, the Quran’s injunctions against religious coercion) opting for violent ones instead (imagining that they must be the crux of these tests.)

    But it also ignores the sources that can inform a religion. That includes the continual tradition which comes after the original texts. That tradition btw is continuing on today. And there are other sources: engaging other traditions, the sciences, etc.

    The cherry picking claim is an odd one, only could be held by a fundamentalist. No tradition is that unified. Heck think of the diversity of thought in just trying to analyze one philosopher’s work.

    Religious traditions and ther sacred texts call out for picking out the key themes (Augustine, Luther, and others have their own form of this). That’s being honest about what texts can and can’t do.

  314. #315 frog
    May 12, 2008

    Colugo: A thread like this reveals the fault lines in the progressive/freethinker blogosphere, highlighting the cause that primarily animates each faction:
    1) anti-imperialism: Western capitalist imperialism is worse than Islamism; in fact, it is the main driver of Islamism.
    2) anti-theism: Christian fundies and Jewish Zionists are just as bad as Islamists; God-belief is the real enemy.
    3) anti-jihadism: Islamism is the greatest current threat to liberal values.

    Oh, come on. Normally your comments are at least interesting.

    I haven’t seen a comment yet that says the Western Imperialism is worse than Islam. What a false trichotomy!

    What you are posing as 1) is almost in every case just simply saying that we’re not lily-white, scot-free. That if we want to point fingers, we have to be quite aware of our own moral position. What you’re calling 2) usually is saying that theism has inherent dangers – that the fundies are quite capable of doing the same things as the Islamists under different conditions, and they are our responsibility.

    I’ll agree with you on 3). But it’s just fairly pathetic to make equivalence between a claim that Islamic Barbarism is an immanent threat that most be fought by any means necessary, and the claim that the problem of barbarism is multifaceted. This is the right-wing crap of false equivalences that always gives me the jeebies, like claiming that ID and evolution are on some kind of equal footing. Just sad.

  315. #316 Ted D
    May 12, 2008

    Well I’m clearly not xenophobic, or I would be anti-foreigner (which I’m certainly not) rather than specifically anti-Islam.

    Many Europeans, including the people like Salman Rushdie and the Danish cartoonists who’ve had their lives to a large extent ruined due to their daring to say something about Islam, would wholly disagree with you. I think we’ll leave it there, unless you want to challenge me on some factual issue.

    Posted by: J | May 12, 2008 6:29 PM

    So… a handful of individuals being threatened by fanatics means all of Europe is “plagued with Islamic barbarism”? Don’t misunderstand me (though I know you probably will), one person being threatened is one too much, but you still draw far too sweeping conclusions from very little. Individuals may be threatened or harmed (which is very bad indeed), but Europe as a whole is exceedingly unlikely to be harmed in any very significant way by Islam.
    Your arguments are drawing attention away from real and pressing problems (such as honour killings) in favour of scarier and virtually non-existent problems.
    I think we’ll leave it at that, unless you want to challenge me on some issue that actually exists outside your mind.

  316. #317 SC
    May 12, 2008

    I’m really pleased to see so many people here trying to make sociological sense of this horrific act, rather than simply lashing out at all Moslems or Arabs. And Bill Dauphin’s is a valiant effort to think through possible causal mechanisms logically. But I feel it necessary to point out that this really isn’t how we, y’know, do it.

    In proceeding empirically, the first step in any such iquiry is to define the object of study and then to operationalize it. So if we’re seeking to understand the causes of “support for ‘honor killings’,” we first need to define them (in relation to other forms of violence against women, etc.) and support for them and determine how we are going to measure these. Then we need to collect data on differences in support for “honor killings” across space and over time to see variation. While some of what we find may be what we would expect, it often isn’t. Just as in the physical sciences, this is what makes the social sciences (studies, if you wish) interesting and exciting.

    In developing causal hypotheses to explain this variation, in addition to factors suggested by our own data, we look primarily to the existing literature – in this case, this could include articles and books from anthropology, sociology, history, and criminology. Relying on conjecture and common sense at this stage would get us into trouble, given our own biases and blind spots. These (and you have no idea how much it pains me to say this, but for simplicity’s sake) independent variables then have to be operationalized and the data on them collected. Here again, what we find is often unexpected. Only at this stage can we truly begin forming models, if we are enamored of them, in order to judge which best fits the data.

    I had no idea I was such a pedant.

    Carry on.

  317. #318 andrew
    May 12, 2008

    Sam Harris’ The END of FAITH anybody?

    Pisses me off.

  318. #319 Dwight
    May 12, 2008

    Sorry for any typos. Just wanted to add that the moral reasoning behind theists and atheists can be quite similar, including similar resources which is why I’m not convinced that theism is either the monster it’s portrayed on this site nor is it a unique and unqualified good that some conservative religionists would hold it to be. It’s got a mixed record, kind of like humans have. And it can be used in ways which support, enhance basic human values or not. If it does, I don’t see why that is somehow taken to be less religiously real.

  319. #320 Ichthyic
    May 12, 2008

    nice job of attempting to find the false middle, Dwight.

    including similar resources

    like?

  320. #321 SC
    May 12, 2008

    LeeLeeOne @ #284:

    And as a mother of many, I hold this woman just as responsible for the murder of her daughter by proxy; this mother put her own foot to her own daughter’s throat.

    She did no such thing.

    You morons! You absolute morons! / This is all morphed into arguments regarding, the bottom line, economics and social standings? / This article brought to light the murder of a daughter by her own father, brothers, and mother.

    It hasn’t “morphed” into anything. This repugnant crime occurred in a social, economic, political context. We try to understand that in order to understand it, and possibly to help prevent more in the future. And understanding our own actions doesn’t hurt.

    PS: And much respect to frog and Hematite, by the way.

  321. #322 Glen Davidson
    May 12, 2008

    PS: And much respect to frog and Hematite, by the way.

    Just said to prove that you’re a hypocrite?

    I guess, since Hematite only said what had already been said, but with lies about what other people wrote–oh, and gross stupidity.

    So you like dishonesty. Just means you’re another dull, hypocritical, unthinking bozo.

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

  322. #323 frog
    May 12, 2008

    Dwight: The cherry picking claim is an odd one, only could be held by a fundamentalist. No tradition is that unified. Heck think of the diversity of thought in just trying to analyze one philosopher’s work.
    Religious traditions and ther sacred texts call out for picking out the key themes (Augustine, Luther, and others have their own form of this). That’s being honest about what texts can and can’t do.

    So why don’t you rewrite the texts? Honestly, if it’s all cherry-picking, if the texts have things you simply don’t agree with and don’t believe are sacred or central to the message, why don’t you just rewrite the text? I’m not suggesting getting rid of the old, but clearly and explicitly de-sacralizing the old and replacing it with something better?

    See, there’s the rub. I can call any secular writer an idiot, take what I think is useful, and add to it. But the People of The Book simply can’t – the text itself is sacred, which then bogs you down for eternity with the Deep Thoughts of drunken goat-herders. You have a substantial problem here, not just different ways to express universal truths, but a particular way of expressing truth that has a tendency to, well, obscure the truths in ramblings of madmen and monsters.

  323. #324 John B. Sandlin
    May 12, 2008

    #97 Posted by: GDwarf | May 12, 2008 11:36 AM

    I am sicked, disgusted, and horrified by this crime.

    Any reasoning person should be.

    But I find blaming Islam for it to be bizarre in the extreme. That is no different than insisting that being an atheist makes you an amoral sociopath, I’m sure I can find amoral, sociopathic atheists without trouble, so it must be cause and effect, right?

    I don’t think PZ is blaming Islam in total – but certainly the version practiced by that specific community is complicit. Yes I’m sure you can find sociopath atheists. I’m also sure that those atheists would be condemned in their communities if they acted in a similar fashion, rather than be congratulated for it. Therein lies the problem. This is a community that not only enables this behavior – it fully supports and embraces such violence. You won’t find the body of atheists, or local communities of such, doing so.

    Really, I am growing increasingly troubled by just how eager commenters here are to pin all of the world’s problems on religion. Can religion justify horrible acts? Of course, so can secular humanism. The question isn’t what is justified or condoned, but what lead to this, and religion was obviously not the cause since plenty of Muslims don’t commit murder. Scapegoats serve no purpose save allowing you to feel falsely superior and somehow safer. Feel free to continue, of course, but at the very least stop being hypocritical by insisting that Ben Stein is wrong about “evilutionists”.

    I challenge your assertion that secular humanism can be used to justify horrible acts. There are no passages supporting “kill them all” in humanist documents, though there are in the documents of the Abrahamic religions. You can read about Secular Humanism and find out for yourself. If you can’t find a link, follow my name to my blog, where I offer a link to a good Secular Humanism site.

    As to scapegoats, what are you actually trying to say? The community of Abdel-Qader Ali supports and apparently encourages the actions he took. We do not. Were it a Christian community or an Atheist community, we would condemn it as completely.

    And you beg the question, so I’m going to ask it, “What about the evolutionists is Ben Stein not wrong about?” (including spelling the word, apparently)

    John B. Sandlin

  324. #325 SC
    May 12, 2008

    Glen D,

    I’ve been reading your comments on here for a while now, and to the extent that I can recall, have generally enjoyed them and found them reasonable. But reading through this particular thread, I was surprised. Your interlocutors (well, Hematite is the one I have in mind, and I think Moses as well, and possibly Alex – everyone’s blending together at this point) were arguing in good faith, ignoring your barrage of insults, and trying to reach a civil truce. But you continued to berate them relentlessly. It was as though you were more interested in dominating the discussion than in participating in a constructive dialogue. This seems out of character for you, from what I’ve read in the past.

    I have no interest in arguing with you. Let the epithets fly, if you must.

  325. #326 calladus
    May 12, 2008

    This repugnant crime occurred in a social, economic, political context. We try to understand that in order to understand it, and possibly to help prevent more in the future. And understanding our own actions doesn’t hurt.

    I think you’ve almost got it there SC, but not quite far enough.

    It’s not enough that we study and try to understand only society, economy and politics. I think we also need to put religion under the microscope and study it in a similarly aggressive manner.

    I think this requires research on how our brains work, and why people are susceptible to religious thinking, no matter how nonsensical it might be.

    Maybe we might find that we could apply the analogy of religion being like a natural low energy state in our minds – a state that is difficult to get out of under our own power.

    Perhaps if we find out why we are susceptible to religion we can find a cure for it, or a safer and more logical replacement for it – in much the same way you might attempt to cure the other sorts of ills in our society, economy and politics.

  326. #327 J
    May 12, 2008

    I find it difficult to believe you. Particular hatred of competing monotheism: check. Use of religious language: check. Smugness and assumption of moral superiority on the basis of random heritage: check. Asinine inability to recognize moral failings: check. At minimum, a very Kiplingesque atheist. The whole world cries for your white man’s burden!
    No, you’re evidently the one with the creed here. Nothing else accounts for your bringing up this utterly irrelevant bullshit about long-gone European colonialism in response to someone’s quite accurately depicting Islam as the wretched medieval death cult it truly is.

    You’re trying to thrust on us some sort of stupid, completely unnecessary, paralyzing “white guilt”, over deeds which none of us here had anything to do with. Basically, this is the gist of your argument so far: We’re not to go hard on Islamic butchery, because in the past some Europeans happened to do pretty ruthless stuff themselves.

  327. #328 Glen Davidson
    May 12, 2008

    Glen D,

    I’ve been reading your comments on here for a while now, and to the extent that I can recall, have generally enjoyed them and found them reasonable. But reading through this particular thread, I was surprised. Your interlocutors (well, Hematite is the one I have in mind, and I think Moses as well, and possibly Alex – everyone’s blending together at this point) were arguing in good faith,

    Hematite was not, and you’re no more interested in backing up your prevarications than he, or Alex, was. Why is it that liars just back up liars, and with no more intelligence or truth than the original liars used?

    And Moses? What’s your problem? That I’d actually disagree with him? All I wrote in response to him was this:

    The key, I think, is for you to figure out why your mis-named “fuedal (sic)cultures” continue to exist far more in Islamic societies than in, say, Buddhist societies, or even animist societies which are exposed to more modern ideas.

    And learn how to spell “feudal” for God’s sake.

    I can see why you didn’t actually back up your dishonest statements, for you just made them up.

    ignoring your barrage of insults, and trying to reach a civil truce.

    You’re so dishonest that you include Moses in this, when I wasn’t even arguing with him, save for that one point. And I hadn’t laid a “barrage of insults” at him at all. But it’s clear that truth isn’t your interest, you just want to accuse falsefly.

    Hematite simply didn’t understand, and he kept repeating lies. I knew he’d never reach any level of understanding, as he did not. He did not accuse in good faith (or at least, not in good faith combined with any meaningful comprehension), he just attacked. Like you did.

    But you continued to berate them relentlessly.

    Again, the absurdity of your lies is laid bare easily by the fact that I did not berate Moses at all. I guess mere honesty isn’t a part of your repertoire of thought.

    It was as though you were more interested in dominating the discussion than in participating in a constructive dialogue.

    What’s constructive about a bunch of lies leveled at people who are already engaged in constructive debate? Yeah, that’s right, none, you’re simply engaged in destructive attacks on those who wish to maintain honesty during discussion.

    This seems out of character for you, from what I’ve read in the past.

    That’s because you’re projecting your own odious lack of decency.

    I have no interest in arguing with you. Let the epithets fly, if you must.

    Well, nothing you said was backed up, and little more was true. Your fantasies about a “barrage of insults” against Moses simply proves that you have no interest in honestly characterizing the matter.

    So it goes, dishonesty breeds dishonesty, and your prejudices lead you to simply fabricating your attacks.

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

  328. #329 SC
    May 12, 2008

    calladus,

    I agree – I was including religion under the broader heading “social.” When listing therelevant literatures, I almost added “social-psychological” at one point, but decided not to include it in this context. While I’m very interested in the psychology of religion, I think psychological explanations are often too readily seized upon in these circumstances, after which real temporal and spatial variation is ignored. But I suppose that’s my bias as a social scientist/historian rather than a psychologist.

  329. #330 J
    May 12, 2008

    So… a handful of individuals being threatened by fanatics means all of Europe is “plagued with Islamic barbarism”? Don’t misunderstand me (though I know you probably will), one person being threatened is one too much, but you still draw far too sweeping conclusions from very little.
    I don’t draw sweeping conclusions from very little. You have no idea what’s led me to my present conclusions, so kindly shut the fuck up about that.

    As I see it, The Satanic Verses controversy, the Danish cartoons, Theo van Gogh’s murder, and recently the trouble surrounding Fitna, are not isolated issues, but are signs very serious restrictions of free speech. It’s so obvious now that it should go without saying (yet here I am saying it): our press is afraid to denounce Islam for fear of a ferocious Muslim reaction.

    And then there are the statistics. According to a recent poll done on British Muslims (ages 16 to 24), 36% believe that a person should be killed for leaving the faith, 68% believe anyone who insults Islam should be arrested and prosecuted, and 78% think the Danish cartoonists should have been brought to justice (whatever that means).

    Too many facts to list have led me to my cynical opinion of Islam, so don’t say I draw sweeping conclusions from little data.

    In all honesty, I suspect that if you (a) are European and (b) don’t believe Islam to be a serious threat to civil society, then you don’t keep track of current affairs, or else there’s something wrong with you.

  330. #331 J
    May 12, 2008

    But I find blaming Islam for it to be bizarre in the extreme. That is no different than insisting that being an atheist makes you an amoral sociopath, I’m sure I can find amoral, sociopathic atheists without trouble, so it must be cause and effect, right?
    Oh, that’s fucking bullshit. Why are there so few people with this attitude on the hundreds of threads in which PZ (rightly) has a pop at Christianity?

  331. #332 John B. Sandlin
    May 12, 2008

    #22 Posted by: Randal Birkey | May 12, 2008 10:05 AM

    Mr. Myers,

    I’m not PZ and won’t attempt to answer for him. However, your questions apply fairly generally to many of us posting on PZ’s blog. So…

    I respectfully ask you to share with me on what grounds you object to this man’s treatment of is daughter? You seem to be appealing to me to agree with you about how vile this man is based upon some shared sense of fairness or decency that he has supposedly violated. What is the source of that shared standard you are appealing to me to agree with you based on?

    You’ve never taken a philosophy course? Hmm. Well, there’s this thing called the human experience. If you’re human, you have it. As a living, breathing, and theoretically reasoning (and rational) human, you are considered a moral agent – a being capable of making moral decisions.

    Over the course of human history, we moral agents have worked either together or against each other. The modes of operation that work better tend to build stronger communities, civilizations. Those modes of operation get codified into law. Some of those laws are religious (see Leviticus, for example). Others are secular (see the United States Constitution, for example). These also form the basis for our morals and ethical philosophy. It is from this framework, I’m going to guess, that PZ is posting this article, and from which he derives his outrage. If you do not share these standards, then likely you did not grow up in this culture.

    You really need to read up on Secular Humanism, I think, if you believe humans require an external source for morality.

    Tell me, what is your source for morality? The Bible? Are you sure?

    Or, have I misunderstood you?

    Only if you have done so on purpose.

    John B. Sandlin

  332. #333 MB
    May 12, 2008

    Glen D., don’t do anything different… you just sound more like Truth Machine than Glen D. in this thread – but maybe I’ve been away for a while…

    There’s way to much analysis here – PZ says religion is bad, this is an example. All this other stuff – but let’s truly understand their motive etc.

    Fuck ‘em. Religion is BAD and responsible for more evil than it could ever hope to make up for – and continues to be.

    The twits you’re arguing with only prove the point…

  333. #334 frog
    May 12, 2008

    J: You’re trying to thrust on us some sort of stupid, completely unnecessary, paralyzing “white guilt”, over deeds which none of us here had anything to do with. Basically, this is the gist of your argument so far: We’re not to go hard on Islamic butchery, because in the past some Europeans happened to do pretty ruthless stuff themselves.

    No, moron. I’m saying that before we can get a handle on Islamic butchers, we have to clean up our own house. We can’t get a good handle on this problem because we can’t engender the necessary trust; and that is due to the fact that we are still profiting on that past colonialism.

    Gahh, what a planet of morons. Here is another example: Zimbabwe. Mugabe is running roughshod over his people and collapsing the economy of a significant region of southern Africa. Why does he get away with it? Because the Brits stole huge tracts of Zimbabwe and never remunerated the native people. The white folks who now own the land don’t have a clean deed, the black folks who have a right to the land don’t have the training to farm it, and no one in Africa trusts whitey when he decries the abuse, because they created this intractable mess in the first place.

    I mean, what class of imbecile do you have to be to not recognize that the current geopolitical situation is directly evolved from the colonial structures of fifty-years ago? That the fight in the ME is for the oil that the US and Europe claim by right of conquest from the Arabs, and controlled by our proxies in the ME? If you want to fix the problems of the ME, it’s going to first cost Europe and the US a whole lotta cash? Until then, there’s not a hope to fix the cultural problems, because the cultural problems are inextricably linked to the grinding poverty because the folks in the ME don’t profit from their own resources? It may not be sufficient to level the playing field, but it’s sure as hell necessary.

    The only explanation is once again willful ignorance to justify the ruthless thievery that continues to this day. Do you somehow imagine that the wealth in the US and Europe is due to some kind of inherent genius? It should be pretty obvious that most folks everywhere are not an impressive bunch, and quite a few are slack-jawed yokels. Or maybe it has to do with the US military hegemony that is primarily a result of historical and geographical contingencies – like most historical facts. The fact is that at the end of the day, more children die from hunger than from “Islamic Barbarism” – and that’s due to a universal barbarism, just at much at home in London as the Sudan.

  334. #335 amk
    May 12, 2008

    An example of an “honour killing” in a Palestinian Christian family.

    I’ve not found a story from a Christian dominated community yet.

  335. #336 Glen Davidson
    May 12, 2008

    Glen D., don’t do anything different… you just sound more like Truth Machine than Glen D. in this thread – but maybe I’ve been away for a while…

    I have rarely disagreed with TM on his style, or his facts (there was one case where the disagreement was severe…, but never mind that). Sometimes we allied, though that was pretty much on Panda’s Thumb (well, I’m almost certain that TM was “Popper’s Ghost” at PT–just possibly frog in a new and milder incarnation?).

    I get tired of all this quicker than he usually did, though, and tend to avoid confrontation in the first place. I’d rather make a good point and get out.

    But I simply don’t see how egregiously stupid attacks upon the truth ought to be met with anything other than contempt. And at this point I suppose I’m not sounding too much like TM.

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

  336. #337 BlackBart
    May 12, 2008

    “You’re not? Then are you going to give up all your bennies? Are you going to return the profits from the slave trade to Africans, are you going to send all the churches to the Americas? It’s nice to sit fat and happy on five centuries of thievery and then claim to have no responsibility.”

    Retarded. Holding people responsible for the crimes of their ancestors is not Moral.

  337. #338 Colugo
    May 12, 2008

    “Mugabe is running roughshod over his people and collapsing the economy of a significant region of southern Africa. Why does he get away with it? Because the Brits stole huge tracts of Zimbabwe and never remunerated the native people. The white folks who now own the land don’t have a clean deed, the black folks who have a right to the land don’t have the training to farm it, and no one in Africa trusts whitey when he decries the abuse, because they created this intractable mess in the first place.”

    Grossly simplistic. This is not about blacks vs whites. Whites are a tiny minority in Zimbabwe, the real minority under threat are the Ndebele, Mugabe is widely unpopular across ethnic and other demographic groups, ANC political history with ZANU-PF inhibits them from applying pressure, this is about providing spoils to Mugabe loyalists rather than transfer from colonists to colonized, in addition Mugabe has leverage by being a vassal of China, Zimbabwe’s educated professional class is largely black so it’s not a training issue, Mugabe’s cleansing of urban poor demonstrates that this is not a white-black thing.

    Yes, I have been to Zimbabwe.

    No offense, frog, but I think we can put you in the anti-imperialist column. (OK, maybe my definitions and even categories need work; I appreciate your and valor’s input on that.)

  338. #339 BlackBart
    May 12, 2008

    “An example of an “honour killing” in a Palestinian Christian family.

    I’ve not found a story from a Christian dominated community yet.”

    Perhaps if you included, Ignorantly Praying over sick children while denying them Medical Care.

    Honor Killing = Ignorance Killing

    It’s all the same thing, really.

  339. #340 frog
    May 12, 2008

    Colugo: Of course it was grossly simplistic – the discussion wasn’t about the intricacies of Zimbabwean ethnicity. But at bottom it is about land ownership and political control. What was the percentage of white land ownership in Zimbabwe? Do I recall correctly that this tiny minority owned 40% of the land? Isn’t it fairly obvious that without some semblance of a fair distribution of land, you’re going to get a mess, particularly when the ethnic affiliations aren’t reflected in the political structures? And isn’t it obvious that a significant (but not all) of this problem can be laid at the feet of the British – that they volunteered for that responsibility by holding Zimbabwe as a colony?

    Colugo, no offense, but your categorizations are a gross oversimplification. How can someone not be anti-imperialist, and claim to be moral in any sense? I’m anti-anything that puts a few at the top of the pyramid, because it’s a stupid social structure that has inevitably slowed down the progress of mankind. I’m also anti-feudal (so am I also anti-Jihadi?) I’m anti-theocracy (so am I a anti-theist?). I also happen to be against the NIH mandate to primarily fund “medically relevant” research – what does that make me, other than someone who also pisses off a whole lot of short-range thinking biologists?

    You should categorize folks more on what they’re for. Against always lead to false dichotomies. And it allows the liars and those with false-agenda to hide, like our friend J.

  340. #341 amk
    May 12, 2008

    frog,

    What was the percentage of white land ownership in Zimbabwe? Do I recall correctly that this tiny minority owned 40% of the land? Isn’t it fairly obvious that without some semblance of a fair distribution of land, you’re going to get a mess, particularly when the ethnic affiliations aren’t reflected in the political structures? And isn’t it obvious that a significant (but not all) of this problem can be laid at the feet of the British – that they volunteered for that responsibility by holding Zimbabwe as a colony?

    Zimbabwe (Rhodesia) was a rebel colony. Elsewhere, the British Empire made an effort to do-colonise responsibly. Ghana is an example. However, the white colonists in Rhodesia weren’t co-operating with land reform, and declared independence. The then British government declined to prevent them.

    It is certainly plausible to me that Mugabe would not have come to power had Rhodesia been de-colonised.

  341. #342 SC
    May 12, 2008

    By the way, I found this earlier in a quick search on Google Scholar. (Disclaimer: It’s not scholarly, and my offering the link implies no necessary endorsement of the writer, the NY Times, or the article itself. But it seemed relevant.)

    http://ensign.ftlcomm.com/currentEvents/iraq/IraqsLittleSecret.pdf

  342. #343 J
    May 12, 2008

    No, moron. I’m saying that before we can get a handle on Islamic butchers, we have to clean up our own house. We can’t get a good handle on this problem because we can’t engender the necessary trust; and that is due to the fact that we are still profiting on that past colonialism.
    Are you trying to say that before I can call Islam a vile, misogynistic, fear-based death cult, I need to…devote my energies to decrying British treatment of Zimbabwe prior to 1980? (I wasn’t even born then, by the way.)

    If not, what am I expected to do? Simply refrain from criticizing barbarism caused by Islam until European colonialism is a distant memory?

    The only explanation is once again willful ignorance to justify the ruthless thievery that continues to this day. Do you somehow imagine that the wealth in the US and Europe is due to some kind of inherent genius? It should be pretty obvious that most folks everywhere are not an impressive bunch, and quite a few are slack-jawed yokels. Or maybe it has to do with the US military hegemony that is primarily a result of historical and geographical contingencies – like most historical facts.
    I’m a big fan of Jared Diamond’s work, so we’re in no disagreement here. I don’t know why exactly you would write this, unless you’re once again resorting to shamelessly deceptive tactics in a bid to give people the wrong impression about me.

  343. #344 Colugo
    May 12, 2008

    frog: “isn’t it obvious that a significant (but not all) of this problem can be laid at the feet of the British – that they volunteered for that responsibility by holding Zimbabwe as a colony?”

    amk: “It is certainly plausible to me that Mugabe would not have come to power had Rhodesia been de-colonised.”

    Indeed.

    But keep in mind that by the 90s – even with Mugabe in power and his previous brutality against (black) civilians in Matabeleland in the 80s – Zimbabwe was on its way to becoming a stable, prosperous country. It was Mugabe’s insistence on retaining his hold on power that precipitated the current crisis. Mugabe’s actions have been all about checking and suppressing Zimbabwe’s (primarily black) democratic opposition.

  344. #345 amk
    May 12, 2008

    A British-Indian Sikh example of “honour killing”. The “other victims” list I think are all British Muslim.

    Iraqi Kurdish Yezidi example. Apparently there’s a video somewhere. Interesting to note that Islamists are calling it martyrdom, claiming she had converted.

    There may be some good information on the topic at stophonourkillings.com

  345. #346 J
    May 12, 2008

    It is certainly plausible to me that Mugabe would not have come to power had Rhodesia been de-colonised.
    Yeah, what’s most amusing about this is that the alleged evils this “Frog” fellow cites are really extremely contestable.

    According to him, it’s not right for me to speak ill of Islam in light of those arguably bad acts committed by European governments when I wasn’t alive.

  346. #347 Dwight
    May 12, 2008

    “the text itself is sacred, which then bogs you down for eternity with the Deep Thoughts of drunken goat-herder”

    While I’m certain it’s possible to make the text an object of worship, it seems a bit defeating for monotheism to sacralize any finite object. On the other hand, I do believe there are a important resources within these texts to think about our life and world. I think like any text it’s possible to draw out the big themes in it (and in conversation with folks over a few millenia who have done likewise). But we just have to admit that yes we are the ones doing just that.

    “nice job of attempting to find the false middle, Dwight.
    including similar resources..like?”

    How about the western philosophic tradition?

  347. #348 Aegis
    May 12, 2008

    So it appears that I am late to the party to call bullshit on Mr. Birkley, who is frankly an imbcile. I went ahead and looked at his ‘blog’. He’s apparently, many hours after the fact, to understand why his small-minded attempt to inject god into a discussion where ‘god’ is ultimately culpable for the event, might engender a hostile reaction from a group of atheists (mainly) who have no problem seeing the horrible nature of this attack without appeal to a silly sky fairy.

    Really, Birkley? You’ve had to contemplate for hours about that? It’s no wonder you have to appeal to god for insight; it obviously isn’t your strong suit.

  348. #349 dave
    May 12, 2008

    “The only explanation is once again willful ignorance to justify the ruthless thievery that continues to this day.”

    I was inspired by this to search my house for any African contraband I might own. All I could find is my Paul Simon Graceland album, but you’ll be happy to know I’ve mailed it straight back to South Africa, liberating Ladysmith Black Mambazo from the American military-industrial complex. Viva la revolucion!

  349. #350 Aegis
    May 12, 2008

    after the fact, *trying* to understand…

    Sorry for he missed word folks.

  350. #351 J
    May 12, 2008

    I think I’ll go on a littering spree in the park tomorrow. Don’t you dare try to criticize me for it unless you’re prepared to clean up your own house. How many of your fellow countrymen have been arrested for crimes far in excess of mere littering? How many of your ancestors once traded on the slave market? You should all be ashamed. I accept that what I’m doing isn’t right, but how can you be so sure you’re in the morally superior position? Say anything bad about me and you’re a racist who obviously doesn’t have a problem with slave trade.

    (I’m not really going to litter. It’s a caricature of Frog’s position, but little less absurd than the only argument one can discern in his hysterically tortuous posts.)

  351. #352 Jams
    May 12, 2008

    @Colugo 307

    Shrewdly put.

    @valor 307

    That would be me, with Colugo’s catagory three a runner-up.

    Hey Colugo, you wouldn’t happen to have names for these catagories?

  352. #353 Jams
    May 12, 2008

    I mean @valor #309

  353. #354 Katharine
    May 12, 2008

    Honor killings are one of the few cases in which I fully advocate a painful, demeaning execution for the perpetrator.

  354. #355 Ichthyic
    May 12, 2008

    How about the western philosophic tradition?

    specifically who were you thinking?

    …and once you list who you were thinking of: what were the specific points of their treatises based on?

    Because I’m reasonably sure you will end up conflating a philosophical argument with one based on religious dogma.

    but don’t let that stop you, go right on ahead.

    do make sure you read up on what I’m concerned about first, though, since it certainly wouldn’t be the first time someone has tried it:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Middle_ground

    (also known as the fallacy of the golden mean)

    sometimes, one side is really just wrong.

  355. #356 Stanton
    May 12, 2008

    The third is one only briefly mentioned: the mother, Leila Hussein. I wonder…does her skin crawl at having to submit to the vile creature who tortured her daughter to death, or is she sufficiently indoctrinated into the evils of her culture that she accepts it? Either way, it’s a nightmare.

    I don’t think she has to worry about her skin crawling over submitting to him, given as how she has already divorced him, and has gone into hiding whilst trying to scrape up enough money to leave Iraq forever.

    I think the more important problems include trying to hide from her ex-husband’s family, and having to deal with her daughter’s face haunting her nightmares.

  356. #357 Jams
    May 12, 2008

    …and I’m noticing now that you DID give them name. Well… um… never mind.:P

  357. #358 Latina Amor
    May 12, 2008

    Moses #161 said, “The best way to stop honor killings is to get the culture of origin out of a feudal state, where LIFE IS CHEAP and HONOR VALUABLE.”

    I couldn’t agree more! The word culture is nice but I feel off the mark a tad. We be fighten memes here! Terrible memes…memes that kill people. These folks (vile though they be) are completed infected, infested and poisoned by religious memes.

    Our culture condones similar behavior with a twist, however, and here’s a little indicater of such in latin since its roots are so old: “Dolce et decorum est pro patri mori” Which means; It is sweet and proper to die for the fatherland. This old mantra of the “soldiers” continues to call to our own sons and daughters who with similar “honor” join the military and perform killing behaviors…only on a much broader scale. How many have “WE” killed in Iraq? A million or so?

    Therefore, before we dismiss this sick, infested, demented, delusional, psycho, bat-brained fuckwit who killed his daughter for “honor”…we must first smell our own shit and should first observe our own shitty demented behavior of sending in soldiers who behave much, much worse.

    It boils down to this; those who murder, no matter the “honor” are…all infected with killer unexamined memes!

  358. #359 Etha Williams
    May 12, 2008

    @#322 John B. Sandlin —

    There are no passages supporting “kill them all” in humanist documents, though there are in the documents of the Abrahamic religions.

    Well, unless you count the Egdew Document of Secular Humanism…oh shit…I wasn’t supposed to mention that, was I?

  359. #360 basekid
    May 12, 2008

    I’m actually feeling physically ill now.

  360. #361 MutantJedi
    May 12, 2008

    Wow. So many comments.

    Hope for humanity is its evolution out of the sticky tar sands of religion. Islam, Christianity, Judaism, any religion is capable of this and more. Even warm fuzzy Buddhism has no problems oppressing its people to maintain a theocracy.

    The reason religion is inherently evil, evil from a perspective of a modern belief that human life is important, even sacred, is that it calls upon its adherents to suspend reason. Any dogma, regardless of its source, religion, politics, pseudo-science, demands a disengagement of reason as reason represents a challenge to its incontrovertible truth. Once reason is disengaged, the benefactor of the dogma can accomplish any horrific act, even the killing of ones own child. Proof is left to the reader: hint – look at history. The benefactor can be any sort of organization such as the church, the mosque, or the state.

    Religion is the most ripe for such perversions. It holds hostage your very soul. It demands that you accept without proof many things. And if you dare try to re-engage your reason, you are reminded that your soul is in peril.

    The father in this story is a victim of an oppressive religious hegemony to the point that his very soul is poisoned. Redeemable? Likely not for all the bile and anger he heaped upon his daughter would have to rightly owned by himself. Even more unlikely where the judicial system only allows the poison to fester and to foster itself in his sons. And that’s the tragedy that will allow this disease to persist from generation to generation: the state/theocracy supports it.

  361. #362 Ichthyic
    May 12, 2008

    Well, unless you count the Egdew Document of Secular Humanism…oh shit…I wasn’t supposed to mention that, was I?

    now you’ve done it.

    expect a visit from the secular inquisition!

    We learned from the best:

    We use double-sewn cushions to poke you with now, and the comfy chair has been replaced with a barcalounger (plush Corinthian leather, of course).

  362. #363 Etha Williams
    May 12, 2008

    Another depressing article about honor killings in Iraq.

    In Basra alone, police acknowledge that 15 women a month are murdered for breaching Islamic dress codes. Campaigners insist it is a conservative figure.

  363. #364 Bill Dauphin
    May 12, 2008

    Etha:

    BTW, I look forward to voting for a Molly for you at the very next opportunity! But I digress…

    What kind of useful discussion could be had by “bringing this conversation back to the murder” without offering possible explanations?:

    Sadly, I suspect I’ve been arguing with right-wing twits for almost as long as you’ve been alive, and one thing I’ve learned is that for a certain (large) percentage of them, there’s no recognizable distinction between “explanations” and “excuses.”

    It’s all about the cherished American myth of individualism: If every good act (or more especially every marketplace success) is to be attributed to the personal merit of individuals, then surely every bad act or failure must be attributed to individual evil, right? If we admit there might be social roots, beyond simple individual evil, for bad acts and loathsome customs, it might hint that there are social remedies, and perhaps even social roots of good behavior. Once you start down that slope, it’s just a short slip to redistribution of wealth, socialized medicine, dogs and cats sleeping together… real wrath-o’-God stuff!

    If one’s worldview casts one (and one’s upper-middle-class chums) as the “white hats,” there must be “black hats.” Suggesting that, for instance, poverty, joblessness, neighborhood decay, and crumbling schools might have some role in urban teens dealing drugs violates the conservative orthodoxy that says people do bad things because they’re bad people, and saying anything else is just “making excuses.”

    The thing they don’t understand is that saying there are contributing social causes for bad behavior is not tantamount to saying the behavior isn’t bad. I do hold that hypothetical teen drug dealer morally responsible for his behavior… but since I see preempting bad behavior as much more valuable than punishing it after the fact, I choose to look for root causes that might be ameliorated.

    If that makes me a lily-livered, pinko-commie, bleeding heart libruhl, well, so be it.

  364. #365 Etha Williams
    May 12, 2008

    @#362 Bill Dauphin –

    …but since I see preempting bad behavior as much more valuable than punishing it after the fact, I choose to look for root causes that might be ameliorated.

    If that makes me a lily-livered, pinko-commie, bleeding heart libruhl, well, so be it.

    Nah, it makes you the antichrist…I mean, just think of the mainstream Xian conception of god: a being that prefers to punish people for an eternity after the fact rather than preempting bad behavior through any number of means in his allegedly omnipotent repetoire. (For example, if you believe Catholic doctrine, he apparently managed to make Mary not be stained with original sin — why not do the rest of us that favor as well?) I’m not talking about violating our free will — just demonstrating a basic sense of moral responsibility and not relying on “faith” (which often turns into dogma, and dogma into violence) would be helpful.

  365. #366 brian
    May 13, 2008

    I didn’t read all those comments above so excuse me if this has already been said.

    The holy bible also condones honour killing. It’s not just a muslim good time. if christians had any guts to practice what their book says, they would not/could not hesitate to follow suit with this insanity.

  366. #367 Kagehi
    May 13, 2008

    The problem for me is that much of the discussion doesn’t seem centered on the people who are directly responsible for this act and condoning it but rather on a broader group that isn’t even involved.

    Because of course, its makes “sense”, if the headline had been, “Local man kills daughter over dressing Goth, with help from brothers.”, and the local cops “here” had congradulated the ass, instead of arresting him, it would have made no sense *at all* to ask, “Ok, why aren’t the neighbors, the local churches, the city, the state, the country, or even anyone else claiming to be Christian, doing or saying anything about it?”

    When you find gunk floating dead on you lake, you throw a wider net to find out how far the gunk stretches, both the determine the extent of the problem, as well as clean the shit up. When the net keeps getting wider and wider, until it covers the entire fracking lake, it hardly matters one tiny bit if *some* few patches of net get pulled in without garbage attached to them. The question isn’t, “Which other people living by the lake are *not* dumping their trash in it?”, its, “How the hell many of them are, and why aren’t the rest of them doing a damn thing about it?”

    This isn’t an issue about *just* the people that did it. Cutting the head off the snake won’t kill this snake. Dealing with one asshole correctly *could have* done something useful, but instead we have seen a circle of people looking inward and secretly happy at what happened, while a **much larger** circle stand with their backs turned, pretending it didn’t mean anything, or happen, etc, because it wasn’t **them** that where effected, and an even tinier number weeping or nashing their teeth at the injustice of it, all held from acting but two circles of idiots, one *protecting* the practice, and the other shielding it from direct site, by standing in the way and pretending its not relevant to them.

    Hint – There is a tiny number in the above collection that do not at least hold “passive” credit for such acts, and who deserve praise for their views, if not their attempted actions, and its “not” the huge majority of “moderates” that just figure they can do what every group of confortable moderates throughout history have done. 1. Pretend it doesn’t effect them. 2. Pretend that the seeds of such acts do not exist in their own houses and ideology. 3. Pretend that it will never “arrive” at their own door, so long as they don’t look at it, or otherwise “draw its attention”, by speaking out about it.

    Its the pacifists delusion, mixed with 4 year old bogyman thinking. If you can’t see the monster, it can’t see you, so it will stay safely in some “other” country. And when it “does” arrive, well then, there are millions of other things you can *blame* for bringing it to the surface, so you can go one pretending that the seeds where not there the entire time and just waiting for the proper mix of bullshit and environment to sprout.

  367. #368 Kseniya
    May 13, 2008

    I run into that, too, Bill – looking for root causes somehow equals “coddling the criminal” or something. It’s so myopic. It’s true that people at every level of society are capable of illegal and immoral acts, but I think we’ll find some correlation between socio-economic status and crimes like armed robbery. (I probably just made SC wince, but I guess I’ll just have to live with that. ;-)

    Etha, funny how the doctrine of personal responsibility breaks down at the level of salvation…

  368. #369 AndyD
    May 13, 2008

    On the issue of where an atheist’s morality comes from, I have to ask why do wild dogs protect the pack rather than just run away from danger? Why do elephants apparently grieve and mourn the dead? Why do chimpanzees ostracise those who misbehave?

    Presumably they’ve all read the good book – or seen Expelled?

  369. #370 Autumn
    May 13, 2008

    On a little bit lighter note, in the opening paragraph PZ hopes his daughter will “grow up to be independant and free and sensible and interesting”.

    I think that she already has, but without your permission.

    STONE HER!

  370. #371 Etha Williams
    May 13, 2008

    @#368 Kseniya –

    Etha, funny how the doctrine of personal responsibility breaks down at the level of salvation…

    No, but you see, we’re personally responsible for accepting Jesus into our hearts. Only if we first do that can we be absolved of responsibility for our sins.

    Stupid immoral, irresponsible atheist!

  371. #372 Colugo
    May 13, 2008

    Kagehi: “”Local man kills daughter over dressing Goth, with help from brothers.””

    A little off topic, but did you hear of the recent case of a UK goth couple who were brutally beaten, the woman fatally, simply for looking goth? The two killers were sentenced to life.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2008/apr/28/ukcrime

  372. #373 Ex Partiate
    May 13, 2008

    Just think the U.S and the British are losing some of our finest young people to fight a stupid war for this pack uncivilized scum bags and their backass religion. This idiot should be hung up by his balls and drawn and quartered just for good measure. We need to get out NOW

  373. #374 G. Tingey
    May 13, 2008

    http://thepaincomics.com/weekly071205a.htm

    And READ the second paragraph of the “artist’s statement”

  374. #375 Nick Gotts
    May 13, 2008

    Why do I get the feeling that someone who doesn’t recognize the existence of the PC Brigade won’t even consider what I said. – J

    Well if they exist, how about giving us their address?

  375. #376 Helen
    May 13, 2008

    PZ wrote: The third is one only briefly mentioned: the mother, Leila Hussein. I wonder…does her skin crawl at having to submit to the vile creature who tortured her daughter to death, or is she sufficiently indoctrinated into the evils of her culture that she accepts it? Either way, it’s a nightmare.

    PZ, no need to speculate. The end of the article you linked to answers your questions. Yes, it’s a nightmare, but she neither submits nor accepts. Here’s how the article ends:

    [The father] said his daughter’s ‘bad genes were passed on from her mother’. Rand’s mother, 41, remains in hiding after divorcing her husband in the immediate aftermath of the killing, living in fear of retribution from his family. She also still bears the scars of the severe beating he inflicted on her, breaking her arm in the process, when she told him she was going. ‘They cannot accept me leaving him. When I first left I went to a cousin’s home, but every day they were delivering notes to my door saying I was a prostitute and deserved the same death as Rand,’ she said.

    ‘She was killed by animals. Every night when go to bed I remember the face of Rand calling for help while her father and brothers ended her life,’ she said, tears streaming down her face.

    She was nervous, clearly terrified of being found, and her eyes constantly turned towards the window as she spoke. ‘Rand told me about the soldier, but she swore it was just a friendship.

    ‘She said she spoke with him because she was the only English speaker. I raised her in a religious manner and she never went out alone until she joined the university and then later when she was doing aid work.

    ‘Even now, I cannot believe my ex-husband was able to kill our daughter. He wasn’t a bad person. During our 24 years of marriage, he was never aggressive. But on that day, he was a different person.’

    The mother is now trying to raise enough money to escape abroad. ‘I miss my two boys,’ she said. ‘But they have sent a message saying that I am wrong for defending Rand and that I should go back home and live like a blessed Muslim woman,’ said Leila, who is now volunteering with a local organisation campaigning for better protection for women in Basra.

    One of those running the organisation, who did not want to be identified, said that Rand’s case was similar to so many reported in Basra, with the only difference being she was in love with a foreigner, rather than an Iraqi.

    ‘There isn’t too much to say. Rand is dead. It is a tragedy and will be a tragedy for many other families in Iraq in the days to come.

    ‘According to information we have been given, some from Rand’s colleague, we have doubts that her love was reciprocated. We have the impression that Rand was in love, but the English soldier wasn’t. But, for a girl to be paid nice compliments about her beauty and her intelligence, it was enough for her to think she was in love.

    ‘She isn’t here any more for her mother to ask any of the questions she would like to. Rand’s case had repercussions because she fell in love with a foreigner. But what about the other girls murdered through “honour” killings because they fell in love with some of a different sect, or lost their virginity, or were forced to become prostitutes?’

    Rand’s mother used to call her ‘Rose’. ‘That was my nickname for her because when she was born she was so beautiful,’ she said.

    ‘Now, my lovely Rose is in her grave. But, God will make her father pay, either in this world … or in the world after.’

  376. #377 shonny
    May 13, 2008

    Just out of curiosity in case anyone knows:

    Did Saddam Hussein’s regime put up with this kind of religious barbarism as well?

    Or is this religious shit something that the US chief moron and his mignons caused after they fucked the whole country?

    (Genuine question, just that such stuff make me want to puke).

  377. #378 LiberalDirk
    May 13, 2008

    @Frog

    Do you realize that you are being racist? You are denying Africa agency. Yes, Europe (and the US and China and Russia)have a certain moral responsibility in creating the current conditions in Africa.

    But decisions have also been made. Elections have been held. Europe did not peacefully take it’s ball and go home. Virtually every country in Africa has had a “liberation struggle”

    Zimbabwe’s current collapse can be laid squarely at the feet of one man. Robert Mugabe. A man who was and has been elected multiple times over the last +20 plus years. Yes, he masterfully uses propaganda and he is not afraid to be the first to resort to violence, but claiming that African countries problems are not the result of African leaders actions infantileses the people (and leaders)of Africa.

    This message is sent to you from Africa.

  378. #379 Kseniya
    May 13, 2008

    Did Saddam Hussein’s regime put up with this kind of religious barbarism as well?

    According to the article posted by SC @ #342, apparently not.

    For better or for worse, Hussein was a secularist, which is one reason the other Middle East leaders hated him – Osama bin Laden included.

  379. #380 Dwight
    May 13, 2008

    Ichthyic

    I suppose it depends on what you mean by middle ground. I’m not trying to argue for a position in the middle of atheism or theism. I’m a theist after all. But given that we both come out of the western tradition, we both live in the same world, etc. is it that controversial that we might have similar ways of engaging in moral reasoning? An example might be Stoicism, arguably one of the secular moral traditions and yet I think much of the New Testament is inexplicable without it. That could be an example of a shared tradition. Reading Seneca and Paul alongside each other can get spooky at times.

  380. #381 Nick Gotts
    May 13, 2008

    Just think the U.S and the British are losing some of our finest young people to fight a stupid war for this pack uncivilized scum bags and their backass religion. – Ex Partiate

    You idiot, the war is and always was being fought for permanent military bases and control of Iraq’s oil industry. The reasons for getting out are that the invasion was illegal and immoral, the vast majority want the occupation ended quickly, and as long as it continues, religious obscurantists can pose as fighting a war of national liberation.

  381. #382 Nick Gotts
    May 13, 2008

    Boy, Glen D.’s in a mood today – I don’t remember seeing so many obscenities out of him – or did I miss some threads where he was this excitable?

    You did indeed. Take a look at “Menuge debate coming up”, where he has a go at first me, then Peter Ashby – in that thread, so far as I can work out, our offence is treading on his pet theory of consciousness. Once Mr. Davidson’s decided you’re a “lying fuckwit”, he’ll go on foaming at the mouth and chewing the carpet for as long as it takes for you to get bored and stop answering him!

  382. #383 Bill Dauphin
    May 13, 2008

    OT, but not outside the broad scope of this conversation, who says science and theism can’t coexist?

    Back on topic…

    …is this religious shit something that the US chief moron and his mignons caused after they fucked the whole country?

    I don’t think W and his beefsteaks (aside: I think you meant minions) caused “this religious shit” by invading Iraq, anymore than we created al-Quaeda (sp?) in Iraq. Rather, by overturning the existing secular civil power structure with no organized plan to replace it, we created a power vacuum into which both Islamicist social “law” and al-Quaeda could flow. This is the pernicious consequence of our naive faith that democracy will spring from the soil like weeds, if only we kill the tyrants. Sadly, human social dynamics are never that simple: Our failure to anticipate bad outcomes and plan to mitigate them has left the field open for the worst possible outcome… and even that analysis fails to recognize the fact that we had no reasonable or moral basis for invading in the first place.

  383. #384 Glen Davidson
    May 13, 2008

    You did indeed. Take a look at “Menuge debate coming up”, where he has a go at first me, then Peter Ashby – in that thread, so far as I can work out, our offence is treading on his pet theory of consciousness. Once Mr. Davidson’s decided you’re a “lying fuckwit”, he’ll go on foaming at the mouth and chewing the carpet for as long as it takes for you to get bored and stop answering him!

    Then again, Nick the lying fuckwit never backed up a single one of his egregious lies.

    Which shows that I was highly justified in calling him a liar, and it’s equally clear to anyone more honest than Peter and Nick that Peter was doing nothing but attacking with prejudice and dishonesty.

    Indeed, it is all on that thread. I made arguments, Nick just lied, and used fallacies. Believe me, I have nothing to apologize for, and Nick has no decency that would cause him to apologize for a whole string of lies.

    I don’t know what it is about the gulf between our senses of the need for truthfulness, for I have a strong sense of the importance of dealing honestly with these matters, while a host of people seem to have no sense of honesty at all. And people like Nick and Peter never back down from their lies, they just pile on more lies when they’re shown to be dishonest and prejudiced. And of course, Nick doesn’t think now to show that anything non-trivial that he said was true (probably because it wasn’t), he just maligns and lies again, showing that he’s the lying fuckwit that I said he was.

    Glen Davidson
    http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

  384. #385 frog
    May 13, 2008

    J: you and your ilk continue to impress me with the shallowness of your thought. For ex: According to him, it’s not right for me to speak ill of Islam in light of those arguably bad acts committed by European governments when I wasn’t alive.

    Once again, an idiotic strawman. It’s perfectly all right to speak ill of the crimes of Islam, as long as it’s not simply an excuse for racist stupidity – as long as you criticize the more far reaching crimes of your own society.

    Then we have numbskulls like “LiberalDirk” – Do you realize that you are being racist? You are denying Africa agency. Yes, Europe (and the US and China and Russia)have a certain moral responsibility in creating the current conditions in Africa. It’s like a parade of strawmen!

    Where did I deny Africans agency? Where did I say that the current situation was only due to European acts? My point was very clear and simple: Europeans can’t claim clean hands. Of course, neither can the local leadership – but responsibility is never a singular affair.

    Why are Europeans and white Americans so damn over-sensitive? Instead of recognizing their portion of the responsibility for current affairs, which is of course disproportionate given that they have a disproportionate share of the weapons and economic power, they weep and whine about reverse racism and being blamed for the “sins” of their ancestors, and they hide in mortal terror of a few yokels who can put a pipe bomb together.

    Y’all are perfectly content recognizing that China has a disproportionate share of the responsibility for what goes on in Tibet or blaming the clerics and ideology (which is surely due) for the case of this bastard in Iraq, but turn it around to you, and we see a biblical gnashing of teeth. I guess the problem is that y’all were born on third-base and think you hit a triple; that your wealth is personally built and so you have a moral right to it and can claim clean hands, even though it’s inherited from pirates. What “morans”, what naive buffoons, what a bunch of weak-kneed crybabies.

  385. #386 J
    May 13, 2008

    Well if they exist, how about giving us their address?
    The existence of the PC Brigade has been adequately proven in this dialogue. Instead of blaming Islam for the horrible story which is the subject of this thread, some people would much rather draw attention to past European colonialism or the war in Iraq.

    As LiberalDirk (#378) pointed out, blaming the West for everything that’s wrong with third world countries is tantamount to refusing to accept the people of third world countries as intelligent agents. I would extend this to those many people here who assume the American government is directly responsible for all the bloodshed in Iraq.

    Their silly argument always goes something along the lines of: We can’t hold the Iraqis at all responsible for murdering one another in cold blood, as we had a good idea beforehand that the US-led invasion would cause quite a few massacres. Indeed, killing one’s fellow people savagely is the perfectly natural response to an invasion of your country by outsiders! Really though, what a disgustingly cynical position. We can hold the Bush Administration culpable for a lot of damage without pretending that the continual Iraqi-on-Iraqi violence is their fault.

  386. #387 J
    May 13, 2008

    Even if the British responsible for the tyranny of Mugabe, which is highly debatable, Frog wouldn’t have coherent point unless he could show that Zimbabwe is in a worse state than pre-British Rhodesia.

    I think he’d have his work cut out for him, but even if he somehow managed to do it…well so what? Is he trying to say we can’t criticize Islam without at the same time acknowledging that the British did some bad stuff a few decades ago? He still hasn’t explained what he’s getting with this apparently extraneous claptrap about Euro colonialism.

  387. #388 J
    May 13, 2008

    Sloppiness: “Even if the British were responsible…” and “…wouldn’t have a coherent point”, that’s supposed to read.

  388. #389 J
    May 13, 2008

    I guess the problem is that y’all were born on third-base and think you hit a triple; that your wealth is personally built and so you have a moral right to it and can claim clean hands, even though it’s inherited from pirates. What “morans”, what naive buffoons, what a bunch of weak-kneed crybabies.
    It’s quite simple, if you’re not demented. I haven’t ever supported European imperialism, slavery, etc. In fact, those things ended when I wasn’t alive. I therefore have no moral responsibility for any of it. None whatever.

    Ditto for most people here, I’d imagine.

  389. #390 Nick Gotts
    May 13, 2008

    Europe did not peacefully take it’s ball and go home. Virtually every country in Africa has had a “liberation struggle” – LiberalDirk

    Indeed. So far as former British colonies were concerned, it was said that the most essential qualification for a post-independence leader was a “JB” (Jailed by the British).

    On Zimbabwe, Britain should certainly have intervened when UDI was declared by the white settlers in 1965 (Rhodesia was “self-governing” at that point, but still under British sovereignty). I have heard that British military leaders told PM Harold Wilson they could not guarantee that the army would obey orders to go in and end the rebellion; I don’t know if it’s true, but if it is I think they were bluffing and in any case he should have fired them for insubordination. If the rebellion had been put down, Mugabe would almost certainly not have come to power, and land reform could have been put through in an orderly way before free elections and independence. There’s no guarantee things would not have gone wrong later; like most post-colonial African states, Zimbabwe had deep ethnic divisions, enormous inequalities, and an economy distorted to fit into the imperialist world-system – and of course Mugabe and his cronies must bear a large share of the blame for the current mess. Interesting to note, by the way, that Mugabe is mission-educated.

    On imperialism more widely, we are living in the aftermath of the Great European Land Grab, which led to permanent (at least so far) European seizure of most land in the Americas, Siberia, Australia and Aotearoa (NZ), as well as shorter-term direct rule over much of the rest of the world. Alfred Crosby’s “Biological Imperialism” explains how the permanently seized areas were not only colonised, but ecologically transformed into “neo-Europes”. There is no real doubt that the GELG greatly benefited those of European descent at the expense of everyone else, right down to the present day, and frog is quite right that while we can’t reverse history, those of us who live well in western Europe and North America should not hide from ourselves that we owe our wealth in large part to this largest-scale criminal enterprise in history. Of course it was only possible because Eurasian technology has been a long way ahead of any other for a very long time, and western Europe in particular pulled ahead of the other main centres of population and technical advance in the early modern era. In 1500, however, Europe was not ahead of Ming China, and its crucial edge over the main Islamic states was in navigation and naval warfare techniques. Spanish conquests in the Americas, and the Portuguese takeover of Indian Ocean trade routes, boosted European economies enormously, by making cheap raw materials and labour available, and above all, by expanding markets for European industries. Ironically, this was disastrous for the first-wave imperial powers Spain and Portugal themselves, because their importation of precious metals caused serious inflation, and their manufactures were soon priced out of the colonial markets – they tried to retain monopolies by force, and of course failed. So it was the Dutch Republic, France, Sweden and above all Britain that benefited, and hosted the industrial revolution.

    It’s interesting to speculate how different the outcome would have been if (say) China had been the first to send ships across the entire world and/or industrialise. Sung China of the 11th-13th century has been seen as a proto-capitalist economy (the Mongol conquest of the mid-13th century put an end to this); and Ming China was, overall, probably technically more capable than any European country in the 15th century. (Gavin Menzies’ book “1421″ is pseudo-history according to experts, but there’s no doubt Zheng Ho sailed as far as East Africa in ships far larger than any the Spanish or Portuguese explorers used, and it was internal political developments in China that brought his expeditions to an end.) The Chinese took “tribute” from the places they landed, but also gave “presents” to local rulers, so there’s at least a chance intercontinental trade could have developed in a more equal way than happened in the GELG.

  390. #391 Nick Gotts
    May 13, 2008

    Re #384. See what I mean?

  391. #392 Nick Gotts
    May 13, 2008

    The existence of the PC Brigade has been adequately proven in this dialogue. – J

    No, it isn’t. There are real debates to be had about how far those who invade a country are responsible for future developments, and about whether there are specific features of Islam that make its effects worse than those of other religions, but sneering at “the PC Brigade” does not contribute to them. The use of the term “political correctness” has been a (very successful) tactic of the right since the early 1990s (maybe earlier in the US, that’s when it reached the UK), avoiding the need for rational argument and often justifying various forms of bigotry.

  392. #393 Glen Davidson
    May 13, 2008

    Re #384. See what I mean?

    See what I mean?

    Nothing but lies and defamation from Nick, and he claims to be the victim.

    He’s a complete fuck-up with a dishonest insistence that the mind is not what science understands it to be, but what his demented distortions and appeals to authority claim it to be. His first mindless tripe in response to me (I hadn’t bothered him at all) was this:

    Although a convinced materialst, I am also convinced that the mind is not “simply the operation of the brain”. The rest of the body, along with constantly shifting parts of the world beyond the body, also belong to the mind’s physical substrate – and this means that human minds generally overlap each other to a significant degree. The idea that each of us is (or has) an entirely self-contained and neatly-bounded mind or self is a hangover of dualism.

    Since I have never claimed, either on that thread or elsewhere in my adult life that we are “entirely self-contained and neatly-bounded”, you see what a dishonest prick he is. I had made an honest and intelligent comment, and he just lied about myself and my position. My response wasn’t too harsh the first time, but he just continued to lie throughout his responses, hence I call him the liar that he is.

    And of course he never once backed up his lies, because, as I implied, lies are his staple–at least in his unprovoked attacks upon me.

    He makes his straw whores, fucks them, and pretends victory. He’s as low as anyone I’ve encountered.

    Notably, he claims that he won’t respond to me, then he does by formally addressing others, but really just responding to me in his usual dishonest and ignorant manner. Again, I would let things rest, but he has to tell more lies, because he’s simply an incompetent lying ass who has been shown to be exactly that. Rather than doing anything to show that he isn’t a lying egregious moron, he simply reveals over and over again that he is.

    Only I discuss the issues, he just accuses sans any regard for the truth.

    Glen Davidson
    http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

  393. #394 frog
    May 13, 2008

    J: It’s quite simple, if you’re not demented. I haven’t ever supported European imperialism, slavery, etc. In fact, those things ended when I wasn’t alive. I therefore have no moral responsibility for any of it. None whatever.

    Yup, as I thought. Grandpa knifed a man in the back, steals his stuff, and you think you have a moral right to the stuff. As I said, completely amoral and smug. Not only that, you then look down on the descendants of the man who was mugged, and consider yourself morally superior to them, when all your advantages are due to grandpa being a thief and a rapist. As I said, born on third-base and claiming to have hit a triple; the same cultural mindset that produced Bushy Jr. and his cultists (about half of the US).

    Scum. Simple amoral scum – take away your stuff and you’d return to piracy in a minute, crusading with swords and crosses. It would be one thing if you simply owned up to it – it’s a reasonable argument to say the world is an amoral place, and the strongest barbarian wins (the French argument on reparations – we won’t apologize because nations simply don’t). It at least shows cojones. But you and your ilk are a bunch of cowards.

  394. #395 Nick Gotts
    May 13, 2008

    Re #393. See what I mean?

  395. #396 Glen Davidson
    May 13, 2008

    Re #393. See what I mean?

    Never cease from being an dishonest dickhead, if that’s all you can be.

    Go Nick. At least you’re consistent in merely accusing, never once making an honest case.

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

  396. #397 Nick Gotts
    May 13, 2008

    Re #395 See what I mean?

  397. #398 SC
    May 13, 2008

    Re #393. See what I mean?

    Yes, well, you were obviously on a testosterone-fuelled tear, Nick. Just look at that block quote. It’s all revealed right there. The sneering, venomous tone! The vicious lies! The refusal to engage in reasoned debate! You clearly had it coming. Only an insane person could see it any other way.

  398. #399 Nick Gotts
    May 13, 2008

    In #397: 395->396.

    I’m quite prepared to leave others to review the original post “Menuge debate coming up” if they want to, and decide who behaved reasonably, and who did not. No further comment from me on this issue here, so expect one more string of foul-mouthed ravings from Mr. Davidson, then we can get back to the topic of this post.

  399. #400 Colugo
    May 13, 2008

    Let me dissociate myself from J’s position as I gently point out to Frog that his geopolitical historical model is a bit oversimplified.

    Yes, fortuitous geography and technological diffusion matters, and so does blind luck (“for want of a nail…”, what Gould means by historical contingency), but so do cultural values and practices, including political and economic systems. What are the reasons for different outcomes in former French versus former British colonies? Why doesn’t Iberian civilization dominate the globe? What are the ramifications of the evolution of English common law and the Scottish Enlightenment? Why has the last half-millennium been dominated by Europe rather than more promising contenders like China and the Muslim world? What were the consequences of the replacement of scholasticism by empiricism? There are many factors at play that influence the course of human history.

  400. #401 Nick Gotts
    May 13, 2008

    Why doesn’t Iberian civilization dominate the globe?… Why has the last half-millennium been dominated by Europe rather than more promising contenders like China and the Muslim world? – Colugo

    For some hypotheses, see my #390. Also, of course, the death of Ogedei Khan in 1242.

  401. #402 J
    May 13, 2008

    Yup, as I thought. Grandpa knifed a man in the back, steals his stuff, and you think you have a moral right to the stuff.
    That sort of thing happens all over the world. Blinded by your hateful anti-European worldview, you’re singling Europe out.

    We can’t possibly restructure the economy of the world so that none of us profit from immoral deeds perpetrated before any of us were alive. It would lead to overwhelming chaos.

    No grandfather of mine knifed anyone in the back, so you’re obviously talking hysterical shit. At worst I might have inadvertently bought some goods that were somehow immorally obtained. I have no moral responsibility for that, unless moral responsibility is to become meaningless.

  402. #403 J
    May 13, 2008

    Scum. Simple amoral scum – take away your stuff and you’d return to piracy in a minute, crusading with swords and crosses.
    Wow, what a total fucking crackpot. I’m “amoral scum” for my crime of having ancestors and dead fellow countrymen who happened to commit crimes in third-world countries? If you really believe this and you’re not just trolling, you need all the medical help you can get, urgently.

    The sane people here won’t feel obligated to apologize for European colonialism every time want to say something bad about Islam.

  403. #404 Nick Gotts
    May 13, 2008

    We can’t possibly restructure the economy of the world so that none of us profit from immoral deeds perpetrated before any of us were alive.

    We could certainly restructure it so it’s a great deal fairer than it is now. Those of us who have been fortunate enough to be born in countries that grew rich from European imperialism do not share the guilt of our ancestors, but we do have a particular responsibility to recognise that our wealth and many others’ poverty have common historical roots, and to work for greater global equality.

  404. #405 Glen Davidson
    May 13, 2008

    Yes, well, you were obviously on a testosterone-fuelled tear, Nick. Just look at that block quote. It’s all revealed right there. The sneering, venomous tone! The vicious lies! The refusal to engage in reasoned debate! You clearly had it coming. Only an insane person could see it any other way.

    Oh yes, now SC comes along with a stupid, dishonest attack that avoids the actual issues involved. Not for the first time.

    Your dishonesty was revealed previously, however, SC, when you accused me of attacking Moses. I can see that the mere evidence that you were being merely libelous does not do anything other than to make you wish to attack honesty in support of your prevarications.

    Or as the idiot Nick would repeatedly say, “See what I mean?” Showing that creativity is as low a priority for him as knowledge and honesty are to both of you.

    Well, you have your fellow lying friend, and you will attack truth with strawmen and prejudice, for you are as indecent and vile as Nick. Had I said that Nick was enraged, you wouldn’t be shown to be a dishonest fuck-up in your own post, SC. What I said was that he was dishonest–but mere dishonesty is does not disturb liars such as yourself.

    Since truth means nothing to you, SC, and you dearly love polite lies, there is certainly no harm in your hatred and libel of truth-telling. You simply reveal yourself to be the kind of incapable and unthinking liar that Nick has demonstrated himself to be.

    You did a favor to yourself in sticking up for Hematite’s dishonest attacks, SC, since that is all you have proven to be capable of as well.

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

  405. #406 J
    May 13, 2008

    No, it isn’t. There are real debates to be had about how far those who invade a country are responsible for future developments, and about whether there are specific features of Islam that make its effects worse than those of other religions, but sneering at “the PC Brigade” does not contribute to them.
    European colonialism has nothing to do with the bigoted (and quite frankly, even deranged) opinions of a sizeable portion of British Muslims. It has nothing to do with the death sentence for apostasy active in almost every Islamic nation, and the habitual oppressment of women by Muslim men everywhere in the world.

    The use of the term “political correctness” has been a (very successful) tactic of the right since the early 1990s (maybe earlier in the US, that’s when it reached the UK), avoiding the need for rational argument and often justifying various forms of bigotry.
    Well I’m not on the right, and I’m not trying to avoid rational argument. You’re the one just doing that. So far you’ve merely waved off the facts I cited, without a snippet of justification.

  406. #407 Glen Davidson
    May 13, 2008

    I’m quite prepared to leave others to review the original post “Menuge debate coming up” if they want to, and decide who behaved reasonably, and who did not. No further comment from me on this issue here, so expect one more string of foul-mouthed ravings from Mr. Davidson, then we can get back to the topic of this post.

    Yes, no honesty from Nick, for he would not have attacked in the first place were he an honest man, nor would he have attacked here yet again after saying that he would not respond to me.

    Don’t worry, moron, you have SC. He’s none too bright, no more creative than your droning lackwit attacks reveal yourself to be, and is as uncomprehending and uncaring of what honesty is as you are. But never mind that, he attacks as dishonestly as you do, so you have dumb friend in him to lie alongside you.

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

  407. #408 J
    May 13, 2008

    We could certainly restructure it so it’s a great deal fairer than it is now. Those of us who have been fortunate enough to be born in countries that grew rich from European imperialism do not share the guilt of our ancestors, but we do have a particular responsibility to recognise that our wealth and many others’ poverty have common historical roots, and to work for greater global equality.
    What the fuck? This is a thread about a Muslim man killing his daughter for essentially religious reasons, and you’re trying to move the discussion to how guilty we should feel for not giving away more of our wealth.

    Lunacy. I stand by what I said earlier: the reality of the PC Brigade is sufficiently obvious from this thread alone.

  408. #409 SC
    May 13, 2008

    I’m with Nick at #399 – I’ll leave it to other rational people – if they care to do so – to read this thread and judge for themselves who has behaved reasonably and who hasn’t.

  409. #410 Jams
    May 13, 2008

    Don’t forget J, you’re also a scumbag for the things your ancestors didn’t do.

    You need to recognize the inherent justice of convicting the descendants of law makers because the ancestors of those law makers transgressed against the laws those law makers had yet to make. Is that so hard to grasp?

  410. #411 Glen Davidson
    May 13, 2008

    I’m with Nick at #399 – I’ll leave it to other rational people – if they care to do so – to read this thread and judge for themselves who has behaved reasonably and who hasn’t.

    Oh yes, me too.

    Cause you know, some people are honest, and some people are like you SC, a liar and a lover of lies.

    Dishonest people will see you liars as reasonable, and they can look up to you for rarely telling the truth, and being as incompetent as Nick Gotts in backing up your false accusations.

    I only care about honest people. You can hate me for being honest, as you obviously do, as you ally yourself with any lying bigot that comes along.

    As always, only I have dealt with issues in response to these malingering idiots. They can’t back up a single one of their egregious lies, hence they pretend to step back as “reasonable people” willing to let others judge, knowing full well that they actually have no means of justification for their previous lies, except for more strawmen, more lies, more substance-free attacks.

    See, if you’re dishonest, all you have is polite words to commend you. If you’re honest and knowledgeable like myself, you don’t brook SC’s dishonesty regarding Moses and myself, and you actually discuss the issues. SC and Nick are not up to the considerable effort that is required for an honest life.

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

  411. #412 Colugo
    May 13, 2008

    Observations:

    Careful with those straw whores, everyone – nothing is worse than straw up the urethra (except a candiru).

    I like the song ‘Politically Incorrect’ by Sadgasm myself.

    Determination of social agency at various scales is a very complex problem. Generic categories of causality suggested by Aristotle, Tinbergen, and Gould hint at the magnitude of the task. J, Nick Gotts, frog, myself and other have grasped parts of the picture, but possibly no current social science model is complex enough to explain these phenomena. And perhaps a model that was complex enough to do justice to the reality would no longer be predictively useful – an unsolvable quandary. If biology is more complicated – that is, harder – than physics, social science is more complicated still. Maybe that is why physics is farther along as a mature science than biology which is farther along than social science.

  412. #413 Nick Gotts
    May 13, 2008

    European colonialism has nothing to do with the bigoted (and quite frankly, even deranged) opinions of a sizeable portion of British Muslims.
    Well it has a good deal to do with why there are as many British Muslims as there are, and also the balance of opinions among them. Around 70% of British Muslims have recent origins in Mirpur, a conservative rural part of Kashmir. Take a look at the history of Kashmir and tell me their presence in Britain is nothing to do with European colonialism.

    It has nothing to do with the death sentence for apostasy active in almost every Islamic nation, and the habitual oppressment of women by Muslim men everywhere in the world.

    The death sentence for apostasy – agreed. However, you might care to consider the case of Iran, where the US and UK overthrew a largely secular democracy in 1953. The Shah then repressed all secular opposition, leaving the Mullahs as the only alternative power base. Similarly in Iraq, US/UK intervention has greatly strengthened the religious extremists.

    Well I’m not on the right
    Yes you are: your use of the “PC brigade” sneer, and your apologias for imperialism locate you there.

    This is a thread about a Muslim man killing his daughter for essentially religious reasons, and you’re trying to move the discussion to how guilty we should feel for not giving away more of our wealth.
    I see you are unable to distinguish between guilt and responsibility. I’m not surprised.

  413. #414 Jams
    May 13, 2008

    “Determination of social agency at various scales is a very complex problem.” – Colugo

    True. Everyone was thrilled when Wilson evoked “Self Determination”, but no one has yet to adequately describe how one arrives at such a thing as universal self determination.

    At the end of the day, some selves will determine they are owned the same plot of turf. And what’s this self thing anyway?

  414. #415 J
    May 13, 2008

    Well it has a good deal to do with why there are as many British Muslims as there are, and also the balance of opinions among them. Around 70% of British Muslims have recent origins in Mirpur, a conservative rural part of Kashmir. Take a look at the history of Kashmir and tell me their presence in Britain is nothing to do with European colonialism.
    What the hell are you playing at? I’m not interested in why those people ended up in Britain. All that’s relevant here is why they have the backward opinions they do (as opinion polls frequently confirm). It’s certainly not a result of European colonialism. Don’t pretend otherwise.

    However, you might care to consider the case of Iran, where the US and UK overthrew a largely secular democracy in 1953. The Shah then repressed all secular opposition, leaving the Mullahs as the only alternative power base. Similarly in Iraq, US/UK intervention has greatly strengthened the religious extremists.
    “Western armed forces toppled the former lovely and merry Islamic government” is an oft-repeated dodge. One always has to inquire into (a)why a terrible government came to power, (b) why it was able to stay in power, and (c) why the civil and political liberties in almost every single Islamic nation in the world are nothing short of appalling.

    To elaborate that last point a bit: A 2006 study was done on social freedoms. It assigned each nation a rank for Political Rights and Civil Liberties (the US and EU having a score of 1 1, Cuba and North Korea having a score of 7 7. Well take a look at this:

    Algeria 6 7
    Azerbaijan 6 5
    Bahrain 5 5
    Bangladesh 4 4
    Brunei 6 5
    Comoros 4 4
    Djibouti 5 5
    Egypt: 6 5
    Indonesia 2 3
    Iran 6 6
    Iraq 6 5
    Jordan 5 4
    Kuwait 4 5
    Kazakhstan: 6 5
    Lebanon 5 4
    Libya 7 7
    Maldives 6 5
    Malaysia 4 4
    Morocco 5 4
    Niger 3 3
    Nigeria 4 4
    Oman 6 5
    Pakistan 5 6
    Qatar 6 5
    Saudi Arabia 7 6
    Senegal 2 3
    Sierra Leone 4 3
    Sudan 7 7
    Syria 7 7
    Turkey 3 3
    Tunisia 6 5
    Uzbekistan 7 7
    Yemen 5 5

    I think that speaks for itself.

  415. #416 frog
    May 13, 2008

    J: “Western armed forces toppled the former lovely and merry Islamic government” is an oft-repeated dodge.

    J, you are unbelievably stupid or an unbelievably bad liar- the Mossaddeq government was not Muslim, which was exactly why the CIA funded his overthrow. The worry/claim was that Iran would join the Soviet bloc.

  416. #417 Nick Gotts
    May 13, 2008

    Re #415 J, it’s really difficult to say that anything in the world today has nothing to do with European colonialism, its influence has been so all-pervasive. “Islamism” itself draws heavily on European-derived ideologies, such as anti-semitism, and first became prominent in Egypt, in response to the British occupation. Of course that doesn’t mean there was nothing wrong with the pre-European-colonial Islamic world, but we really can’t tell what that would be like if European colonialism had not happened, or had been less (or indeed more) destructive.

    Re #416 And the main motive – Mossadeq was looking to nationalise the oil industry.

  417. #418 SC
    May 13, 2008

    I linked to Robert Newman’s “History of Oil” recently elsewhere on Sb, but in case some here haven’t yet seen it, you can find it at

    http://www.thedossier.ukonline.co.uk/music_satire.htm

    Scroll about 40% of the way down the page to find it. Very smart and extremely funny.

  418. #419 frog
    May 13, 2008

    Colugo: Determination of social agency at various scales is a very complex problem.

    That is the issue – that there are multiple layers of agency going on that have to be recognized. Actually identifying every layer and disentangling them is quite hard; but recognizing that multiple layers shouldn’t be difficult, and recognizing the major movers isn’t difficult either.

    That’s where I get all frothed up. We can argue all day on how to weigh the influence of the numerous players and the strands that connect historical players to current players. But to claim no causal links between current events and historical events, to see no link between between the current status and acts of the past, is frankly dishonest and propagandistic. In that case, I smell an agenda over-riding any good-faith argument.

    The “no responsibility” crowd smells exactly like Chinese nationalist who refuse to recognize any responsibility for incidents in Tibet, or S. Africans who give Mugabe a complete pass for his behavior in the last decade. The inability to recognize our own role in everything, to some extent or other, is simply nationalistic/regionalistic/cultural supremacist bullshit, which should not be given a respectful place at the table.

    We know that the world is a complicated place – to claim that it’s basically simple should disqualify one right at the outset.

  419. #420 J
    May 13, 2008

    Re #415 J, it’s really difficult to say that anything in the world today has nothing to do with European colonialism, its influence has been so all-pervasive.
    Which is why it’s so easy for nutcases like you and Frog so dream up some tenuous way in which colonialism is connected with any evil committed in the present by non-white people (especially Islamists).

    Suppose the Poles tomorrow morning decided to enslave women and put to death those who don’t subscribe to the tenets of Polish nationalism. By your logic, we would be able to trace that back to Nazi Germany’s treatment of Poland (which was far more severe than any Western nation has treated an Islamic nation, ever). If anyone were to comment on these immensely disturbing new policies in Poland, by the principles you’re advocating we would get angry with them and go on about how their country was laid to ruin by the Nazis.

    China’s inadequate human rights, and their occupation of Tibet? Hey, do you know how much China suffered in WW2 at the hands of Japan? And then there’s the reprehensible British acts in the Second Opium War! Amoral scum, the lot of you!

    J, you are unbelievably stupid or an unbelievably bad liar- the Mossaddeq government was not Muslim, which was exactly why the CIA funded his overthrow. The worry/claim was that Iran would join the Soviet bloc.
    OK, read what I said as “Muslim-majority nation’s government” if that makes you feel better. It’s not like this insignificant piece of pedantry affects my argument.

    You’re refusing to address actions committed in the present by Iranians, instead preferring to go on about American operations in the country several decades ago. By doing this you’re denying moral agency to the people of Iran, as if they’re automatons who can’t help what they do. This is infinitely more racist than anything I have done.

  420. #421 J
    May 13, 2008

    Correction: I meant to say, “If anyone were to comment on these immensely disturbing new policies in Poland, by the principles you’re advocating we would get angry with them and go on about how the Poles’ country was laid to ruin by the Nazis.”

  421. #422 Hematite
    May 13, 2008

    Nick, good post #390. Have you read The Years of Rice and Salt by Kim Stanley Robinson? It’s an alternate history novel based on the premise that the black death wiped out all of Europe instead of merely a good chunk of it. I read it a long time ago and I can’t recall if it was actually any good, but being thought provoking will cover many sins.

    Speaking of post-colonialism, I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on how to redress historical wrongs against indigenous peoples. Drop by my blog and say hi if you’re interested, this thread doesn’t need to get any further off topic.

  422. #423 Brownian, OM
    May 13, 2008

    PZ, did you make this?

  423. #424 Nick Gotts
    May 13, 2008

    J, recognising historical connections and responsibilities does not imply denying the moral responsibility of anyone living today for acts they have committed themselves. This point has been made numerous times, both explicitly and implicitly. Abdel-Qader Ali is evil, Al Qaeda are evil, Saddam Hussein was evil, Islamic states have very poor human rights records, Islam is a false and dangerous belief-system – but none of that precludes others also having moral responsibility for many of the evils happening in those states. Either you can’t grasp this simple point, or as frog thinks and I’m beginning to suspect, you won’t – because that would disturb your comfortable feelings of entitlement and superiority.

  424. #425 Nick Gotts
    May 13, 2008

    Re #422 Thanks, Hematite, I did try “Years of Rice and Salt”, but couldn’t get into it. I must have another go, as I’ve enjoyed others by KSR. I’ll visit your blog in the near future.

  425. #426 Rhonda
    May 13, 2008

    This is pure murder and the civilized world should stand up against actions such as so-called honor killings, and don’t forget in India the women who are scalded or burnt with acid by their “loved ones.” We must endeavor to have all cultures of this planet respect women as real people with all the value of any male. We cannot accept anything less. The brutality against women in our own culture is pretty horrible also.

  426. #427 LiberalDirk
    May 14, 2008

    @Frog I agree that the world is a complicated place, with casual links not always being obvious. Also, responsibility for actions are not always apparent, and propaganda is deliberately employed to obscure issues further.

    Zimbabwe is just a bit of a personal sore spot for me. Being that I am confronted with the fallout on a nearly daily basis.

    My apologies for calling you a racist. But I keep to my point that shifting the responsibilities for Africa’s problems away from its leaders is denying the citizens of Africa agency.

  427. #428 TimB.
    May 14, 2008

    Whatever happened to chivalry? The girl had a crush on a British soldier, and she was stomped to death (hard to imagine anything more horrific). I wonder why that soldier didn’t visit some clandestine chivalrous kickass on the murdering scum. After all, she died for liking him. What a wanker.

  428. #429 J
    May 14, 2008

    Abdel-Qader Ali is evil, Al Qaeda are evil, Saddam Hussein was evil, Islamic states have very poor human rights records, Islam is a false and dangerous belief-system – but none of that precludes others also having moral responsibility for many of the evils happening in those states.
    First point: Europeans and Americans who didn’t do anything to support colonialism, the 1953 coup d’état in Iran, the Iraq war, etc., don’t have a moral responsibility for any of this. Maybe at most a feeling of shame of living in a society that did such things. But all countries have similar reasons to feel ashamed (especially Islamic countries). Either you’re singling out the West for its past sins, or all this stuff about colonialism etc. was an utterly irrelevant distraction.

    Second point: It’s quite obvious that shit that happened 100 years ago, or even a few decades ago, in no way compels Muslims of the present to act violently. The best counter-example is the Jews. In the 20th century they suffered more than any group. Even still, it goes without
    saying that none of us would think that this suffering gives them reason to start oppressing their own people, enslaving women and putting apostates to death. And if some of them started to blow up innocents over in Germany, who’s betting that Jewish moderates would condemn these terrorist acts with far greater clarity than the innumerable Muslim “moderates” in the corresponding situation, who always seem to be telling us that we should “understand” why Muslims are led to do these things.

    Yeah, I do “understand”: genuine Muslim moderates are practically non-existent.

  429. #430 amk
    May 14, 2008

    J,

    A 2006 study was done on social freedoms.

    It sounds like you’re referring to Freedom House’s Freedom in The World report, which I linked to above. It’s annual, and decades old.

    You included Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan in this list. Shitty governments, certainly, but secular. They are as secularised as we are. Uzbekistan was for a time a US/UK ally in the “war on terror”. See Craig Murray‘s book “Murder in Tashkent”/”Dirty Diplomacy”. Murray was UK ambassador to Uzbekistan.

    It’s quite obvious that shit that happened 100 years ago, or even a few decades ago, in no way compels Muslims of the present to act violently. The best counter-example is the Jews.

    Not the best counter-example. Are you unaware that Israel, which (falsly, unjustifiably) claims to represent “The Jews” (whatever “The Jews” may be – not Judaism apparently, as Israel claims to be secular), is actively stealing land lawfully belonging to Palestine? That may not have happened but for the Holocaust. Why should Palestinians suffer for the crimes of Nazis?

    condemn these terrorist acts with far greater clarity than the innumerable Muslim “moderates” in the corresponding situation, who always seem to be telling us that we should “understand” why Muslims are led to do these things.

    Juan Cole lists Islamic condemnations of terrorism.

  430. #431 J
    May 14, 2008

    It sounds like you’re referring to Freedom House’s Freedom in The World report, which I linked to above. It’s annual, and decades old.
    Didn’t know you linked to it, but I already knew what it’s from. The results I cited are from 2006, as I said.

    You included Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan in this list. Shitty governments, certainly, but secular. They are as secularised as we are. Uzbekistan was for a time a US/UK ally in the “war on terror”. See Craig Murray’s book “Murder in Tashkent”/”Dirty Diplomacy”. Murray was UK ambassador to Uzbekistan.
    Yet they’re both Muslim-predominant countries, which is all I was concerned with. See, this is not the first time your tactic has been used against me on this blog. Again, these facts you mention are totally irrelevant. None of my claims are undermined by what you said.

    Not the best counter-example. Are you unaware that Israel, which (falsly, unjustifiably) claims to represent “The Jews” (whatever “The Jews” may be – not Judaism apparently, as Israel claims to be secular), is actively stealing land lawfully belonging to Palestine? That may not have happened but for the Holocaust. Why should Palestinians suffer for the crimes of Nazis?
    Sorry, but this actually helps prove my point. Let me explain:

    Very few people actually try to excuse Israel’s present-day actions because of the Holocaust. The doings of Israel are constantly disputed in the academic world (see, for instance, the British boycotts on Israeli academia). Yet in almost every discussion between liberals in which an anti-Islamic opinion is voiced, the vile deeds of Muslims and Muslim-majority nations are attributed to what Europe or America once did, usually several decades ago.

  431. #432 J
    May 14, 2008

    The lengths people will go to in order to avoid admitting that a group of primarily brown-skilled people are in the grasp of insane, destructive ideas…

  432. #433 J
    May 14, 2008

    Weird typo. “Brown-skinned people”, I meant to say.

  433. #434 amk
    May 14, 2008

    frog,

    Europeans can’t claim clean hands. Of course, neither can the local leadership – but responsibility is never a singular affair.

    Why are Europeans and white Americans so damn over-sensitive? Instead of recognizing their portion of the responsibility for current affairs, which is of course disproportionate given that they have a disproportionate share of the weapons and economic power, they weep and whine about reverse racism and being blamed for the “sins” of their ancestors,

    I have an issue with this.

    The only morally culpable actors are individual human beings. Not nations, not continents, not ethnicities, not cultures, not even religions. To claim otherwise – and this is what you appear to be doing – is not only bullshit, it is dangerous bullshit. Down this road bigotry lies.

    British colonial imperialism was the moral responsibility of persons who happened to be “white” Britons. It is not the moral responsibility of the “white” ethnicity or the British nation. Likewise (and to prevent any confusion from my above comment), the existence and expansion of the Jewish “settlements” (colonies) in occupied territory are the moral responsibilities of persons who happen to be Israeli and Jewish, not the nation of Israel, nor “Jewishness”, nor Judaism.

    There is no such thing as “reverse racism”. Bigotry against “whites” is racism.

    We should still level the economic playing field, and should still discuss why people commit evil acts.

  434. #435 amk
    May 14, 2008

    J,

    Yet they’re both Muslim-predominant countries, which is all I was concerned with. See, this is not the first time your tactic has been used against me on this blog. Again, these facts you mention are totally irrelevant. None of my claims are undermined by what you said.

    I take it you were attempting to demonstrate correlation, and from that infer causation. The correlation is clear, but correlation does not imply causation.

    Uzbek citizens are as secular as western Europeans. Islam is in no way a cause of Uzbek dictatorship, it’s an overhang of Soviet dictatorship. If Islam Karimov’s government were to decide usher in Western-style democracy, I expect it would have no more difficulty than Gorbachov and Yeltsin.

    Very few people actually try to excuse Israel’s present-day actions because of the Holocaust.

    Just to be clear, “explaining” is not the same as “excusing”. For example, we know the origins of Irish Republican terrorism, involving the mistreatment of the Irish by various British governments, and of Northern Irish Catholics by various Northern Ireland regional governments. For example, at the start of the Troubles the Catholics didn’t have the same voting rights as Protestants with respect to the regional government. This does not excuse terrorism. We can discuss Hamas or even Al-Qaeda the same way.

    A common pro-Israel propaganda tactic uses the Holocaust and the history of anti-semitism to encourage sympathy and then attach that sympathy to Israel as well as to encourage outrage and then attach that to Israel’s critics. In this world view, actions taken on behalf of Israel are effectively excused (or simply denied) because of that history.

    You also wrote

    And if some of them [Jews] started to blow up innocents over in Germany, who’s betting that Jewish moderates would condemn these terrorist acts

    There are certainly many Jews who oppose the policies of the state of Israel. There are many, including clergy, who do not. Rabbi Dov Lior and others criticised the dismantling of illegal (by Israeli law) settlements.

    This is largely down to in-group/out-group thinking: people reflexively support their in-group in any conflict with an out-group. No doubt the same psychology is at work with Muslims. Nothing re-enforces in-/out-groups like religion. (Only nationality, ethnicity and culture come close; Israel combines them all.)

    You seem to be a bit vague on precisely of which actions you hold Islam to be the cause. I’ve produced examples of “honour” killings in non-Islamic families, although if religion were actually good for anything it would prevent such murders. Christian societies used to execute heretics. Hezbollah has recruited Christians as suicide bombers, and the tactic was pioneered by the secular Marxist Tamil Tigers, the Tamils having a Hindu tradition. Robert Pape concluded that “The data show that there is little connection between suicide terrorism and Islamic fundamentalism, or any one of the world’s religions” in the only large-scale study by an academic on suicide terrorism of which I am aware.

    Ultimately I think Ed Brayton hit the nail on the head in a comment on his Dispatches blog: The difference between them and us is not that we are Christian and they are Muslim. It is that we are secular and they are theocratic. (possibly not word perfect). Europe has a tradition of Hellenic philosophy as well as Christianity, and the former produced the Enlightenment changing the latter for the better. Islam needs to be changed by an Enlightenment.

  435. #436 amk
    May 14, 2008

    Just noticed I messed up formatting in #434

    frog wrote this:

    Why are Europeans and white Americans so damn over-sensitive? Instead of recognizing their portion of the responsibility for current affairs, which is of course disproportionate given that they have a disproportionate share of the weapons and economic power, they weep and whine about reverse racism and being blamed for the “sins” of their ancestors,

    and not the bit in the actual blockquote, which is what he was replying to.

  436. #437 J
    May 14, 2008

    I take it you were attempting to demonstrate correlation, and from that infer causation. The correlation is clear, but correlation does not imply causation.
    I was giving evidence that almost every Muslim-majority nation on the planet, out of over two dozen of them, is in a dire state when it comes to social freedoms. The most parsimonious explanation is apparent.

    Uzbek citizens are as secular as western Europeans. Islam is in no way a cause of Uzbek dictatorship, it’s an overhang of Soviet dictatorship. If Islam Karimov’s government were to decide usher in Western-style democracy, I expect it would have no more difficulty than Gorbachov and Yeltsin.
    I don’t know what you hope to achieve by mentioning this (apart from show off your knowledge). At most, you’re contesting the inclusion of two nations on my list of about 30.

    Besides, it’s easily possible to argue that if it weren’t for the Soviet overhang, those countries would be in an even worse condition.

    Just to be clear, “explaining” is not the same as “excusing”. For example, we know the origins of Irish Republican terrorism, involving the mistreatment of the Irish by various British governments, and of Northern Irish Catholics by various Northern Ireland regional governments. For example, at the start of the Troubles the Catholics didn’t have the same voting rights as Protestants with respect to the regional government. This does not excuse terrorism. We can discuss Hamas or even Al-Qaeda the same way.
    Well the sort of response we’re witnessing in this thread (which, sad to say, is all too common among liberals) is an awful funny kind of “explaining”. It’s kind of curious that people like you are evidently allowed to blast Israel without simultaneously adding something about the Holocaust, the Yom Kippur sneak attack and so on. Starkly contrasting with that, whenever I try to say to say something about the demonstrable vileness of Islam, the discussion inevitably sinks into apologetics over colonialism, angry accusations of racism, wishy-washy bullshit about the Islamists’ economic condition, et cetera, et-tedious-cetera.

    I have no problem talking about how terrorists are created and what justification (if any) Muslims have to hate the West. But there’s a time and place. If you think a thread like this is the right venue for muddying the water with pseudo-explanations involving colonialism rather than rightly blaming Islam for yet another atrocity committed in his name, then there really must be something wrong with you. (This doesn’t apply to you, but definitely does to Frog.)

    What I want to know is why the apologists aren’t roasted only in threads about Islam. If the above post of PZ’s were about some Texas yokel killing his daughter on Biblical grounds…what do you think of the likelihood, in this case, of the thread degenerating into an analysis of the socio-economic condition and the history of Texas?

  437. #438 J
    May 14, 2008

    I’m not on good form: “…yet another atrocity commited in its name”.

  438. #439 Nick Gotts
    May 16, 2008

    If the above post of PZ’s were about some Texas yokel killing his daughter on Biblical grounds…what do you think of the likelihood, in this case, of the thread degenerating into an analysis of the socio-economic condition and the history of Texas? – J

    Quite high – there’s enough commentators hear interested in sociao-economics and social history to suport a rational discussion of that kind, such as some of us have been atempting here. Yes, the first reaction to a disgusting case like the one this post discussed is condemnation – look at the first few dozens comments. Once that’s been said, though, some of us think it worth rational enquiry into factors that increase or decrease the rates at which these kind of crimes are committed. To you, there is only one possible explanation: “Islamdidit”.

  439. #440 Don
    June 1, 2008
  440. #441 paradoctor
    June 3, 2008

    There are complicating factors: nationalism and tribalism. The daughter was consorting with the enemy, etc. Of course this excuses nothing; normal tribalists just warn the wayward daughter. On the other hand, normal misogynists don’t kill their daughters, just exploit them. I guess it takes a combination of misogyny and tribalism to achieve this. It is a sign of the collapse of a culture.

    I prefer the term ‘dishonor’ killing. They are in response to a perceived dishonor, and they are a real dishonor.

  441. #442 honest debate
    June 6, 2008

    Islam does not allow honour killings, (period). If incidents occur, it is because of tradition and not because of an understanding of Islam.

    With the growing culture of ‘cheating on your spouse’ in the West, if a man walks in on his wife being intimate with another man and kills her, is this also not a form of honour killing? Although it would still be seen as wrong in the west, ‘Christianity’ is not mentioned because we all know that this has nothing to do with Christian practices or beliefs. However, when honour killings involve a Muslim, we can almost be certain that there will be a mention of Islam or Muslim.

    For the record, honour killings are wrong. They happen all over the world, in many cultures but somehow seem to have been categorised into being a Muslim problem when it’s got nothing to do with Islam.

  442. #443 Tall Teacher
    June 10, 2008

    I was going to respon to #53, but I already have here

    http://tallteacher.wordpress.com/2008/05/30/institutionalised-prophets/

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