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25 Ways to Communicate Respect (A Parody)


*I don’t usually like to use much profanity. If I use it, I prefer to add it sparingly, as a light seasoning. However, ideas in the article I am parodying were so offensive to me, the only way I could capture that was to use some rather explicit language. In other words, if I offend you with it, good. That’s exactly what I am trying to acheive.*

Actions speak louder than words. You can say you respect your husband, but he’ll have a hard time believing that unless your behavior backs it up.
What does respectful living look like? Here are 25 ways you can communicate respect to your spouse without uttering a word. If you’ll make it your habit to do these things, the next time you tell your husband how much you respect him, he won’t have to wonder if you really mean it.
1. Choose Joy
It’s true: A happy wife makes a happy life. GOD FORBID you should have any other emotions, and if you do, they’re YOUR PROBLEM. Your man has enough to worry about without having to deal with your MOODS, which you only have to manipulate him anyway.
2. Honor His Wishes
What’s that? You think your opinion matters? Pshaw. You’re just a silly woman. If he wants dinner on the table, IT HAD BETTER BE THERE. If he wants a tidy house, MAKE THAT MOTHERFUCKER SPARKLE. Don’t make him ask twice, UNLESS YOU WANT A BLACK EYE. (Philippians 2:4)
3. Give Him Your Undivided Attention
LISTEN THE FUCK UP. Yes, I know that women are masters of multi-tasking, but when a man is speaking, PUT DOWN THAT BOOK, TURN OFF THE COMPUTER AND…wait a minute, why are you reading this, WHY AREN’T YOU FOCUSING ON YOUR HUSBAND, YOU FLIGHTY WHORE?
4. Don’t Interrupt
5. Emphasize His Good Points
OF COURSE, he’s not perfect. That doesn’t mean you have to rub his nose in it every day. If your husband is a complete bastard, maybe it’s because you’re a STUPID BITCH. Remember, he has to put up with your bullshit EVERY DAY, the least you can do is cut him some slack when he leaves his dirty underwear on the floor. JESUS H. CHRIST, DON’T MAKE ME QUOTE THE BIBLE.
6. Pray for Him
Okay, okay. Maybe he is a complete bastard. But don’t worry about making him change. Let GOD handle that shit. Pray every night for him to mend his ways. Yeah… that’ll help.
7. Don’t Nag
8. Be Thankful
Cultivate an attitude of gratitude. Remember, your entire existence up until your wedding day was to bag a husband, so be grateful you aren’t some bitter old maid. Be thankful you found someone to put up with your shit, because you are a horrible person who BLEEDS MONTHLY, MAKES VAGINA BABIES and should be ashamed of your disgusting BODILY ODOUR.
9. Smile at Him
Smiles spread happiness. Smiles are contagious. And a smile makes any woman more beautiful. If you aren’t smiling, you might as well be screaming that you don’t deserve love. IT IS YOUR DUTY TO BE SEEN AND TO BE EXPERIENCED BY MEN. If you’re not smiling, you’re not doing your fucking job.
10. Respond Physically
Did you know your consent isn’t necessary for your husband to experience pleasure? Don’t slap him away when he tries to hug you or make excuses when he’s in the mood, that’s only going to make him angry, and you really don’t want to see him angry. To prevent your husband turning into a RAPE HULK, fake it. Otherwise, make sure you have plenty of concealer to cover up the bruises when you go to the vagina doctor.
11. Eyes Only for Him
12. Kiss Him Goodbye
I once read about a study done in Germany which found that men whose wives kissed them goodbye every morning were more successful than those who weren’t kissed. And we all know Germans know a thing or two about romance. So yeah. Maybe evolution shouldn’t be taught in schools, but I’ll happily use science to back up my bronze age ideas about what makes a good wife.
13. Prepare His Favorite Foods
Again, your existence is solely to please your husband. The success of your marriage completely depends on your ability to cook his foods and completely subvert your own needs to his. Not enough time to make chicken parmesan? Maybe you should reschedule that doctor’s appointment.
14. Cherish Togetherness
Don’t let that motherfucker leave your sight. We all know men will immediately forget about a woman if she isn’t in his sightline, so follow him around like a hemmorroid.
15. Don’t Complain
16. Resist the Urge to Correct
So what if he took the wrong exit? He’ll figure it out on his own. You shouldn’t worry about it. You’re just a woman!
17. Dress to Please Him
Take care of your appearance. Eat a healthy diet and wear flattering clothes. Your existence is to please your husband, but also to make him look good by association.
18. Keep the House Tidy
As if I even need to mention this. A man’s home is his castle. A castle has servants to keep it clean and orderly. And by servants, I mean you.
19. Be Content
So, your husband may not have the best job. Maybe he doesn’t always take the trash out when he’s asked. But it’s your job to make do. AND DON’T BE A WHINY BITCH.
20. Take His Advice
In other words, DO WHAT HE SAYS OR ELSE.
21. Admire Him
Don’t just flatter him. He can tell the difference. You have to actually BELIEVE you are scum compared to him. Then you might have a start.
22. Protect His Name
Whatever happens in your house, stays there. If he’s hitting you, that’s your problem. Don’t you DARE tell anyone, because you’ll hurt his reputation and then what will people think of YOU? After all, you MARRIED HIM.
23. Forgive His Shortcomings
Okay, maybe I covered this before, but a list of 25 things sounded better to me than 24. So, blah blah blah. Your husband is imperfect, but that’s not his fault. Maybe it’s yours. Maybe you should just forgive him and remember, if it weren’t for him, you’d probably be alone or dead. Or both. At least you aren’t one of those oppressed Muslim women, right?
24. Don’t Argue
You are not always right, and you do not always have to have the last word. In fact, you don’t even get the first word. Or any word. For the last fucking time: SHUTTHEFUCKUP.
25. Follow His Lead
You know that voice inside your head? The one that tells you right from wrong, or what you should do at any given time? Yeah, you don’t need that anymore. THANK FUCKING GOD! You never have to think again, because your husband will do all the thinking for you. Isn’t that liberating? All those women who think they’re liberated because they believe in their ‘individuality’ and ‘independence’ don’t know what they’re missing.

“I hate children.” Acceptable discrimination?


Why is it socially acceptable to say you hate children?

My husband and I had a discussion about this yesterday. In our social circle, there are a few people who are child-free by choice, or simply uninterested in having children. Some are openly hostile about their dislike of children and this is usually tolerated or even found to be liberating or amusing. However, my husband brought up that a statement like, “I hate kids,” is essentially no different from saying, “I hate gays” or “I hate retarded people.” It’s prejudice against a group that has no control over its circumstances. It’s discrimination, plain and simple.

It hadn’t really occurred to me, because I generally count myself amongst the child-haters. But after further discussion, I realised I feel about kids the way I do about most people: I like individual ones; most of them are jerks and irritate the hell out of me; I can only stand being in large groups of them for a limited time. I would never say I dislike any other general group of people, so why is this sort of age discrimination socially acceptable?

It’s similar to how I’ve come to understand my relationships with other women, I don’t have a lot in common with most women, but the ones I do share values and interests with become close friends. It’s no different with men, actually, but I’ve just found more men share common values and interests with me. It doesn’t mean I don’t like being friends with women. I’ve even extended this to pets: I’m not really a cat or dog person, I get along with individuals in both groups, but I tend to find I’m easily comfortable with cats more often than dogs. It doesn’t mean I sweepingly say, “I hate dogs.” But I will say, “I’m more of a cat person.”

Maybe, if you’re a child hater, rather than blanketing ‘children’ as a group, you should reflect on why you don’t like kids and be more specific. “I don’t know how to act around most kids, and it makes me uncomfortable.” “I find children’s unpredictable behaviour and lack of social skills frustrating and nerve wracking to deal with.” or even “I prefer to be around people I can converse with, and so kids offer nothing to me socially.”  Or just simply, “I’m more of a ‘grown-up’ person than a ‘kid’ person.” Ever since I had a child of my own, and have been subsequently forced to be around kids a lot more, I realised there is a lot more to kids than I thought, and there are a lot more types of kids than I imagined. They’re like any group, once you get to know them individually, it’s really hard to put them all into a general category. When you automatically eliminate an entire group from your life, when you say you ‘hate’ people, you’re cutting yourself off from opportunities to learn, and you close yourself off from experience. I’m not saying you have to open up a daycare centre or go up to every child in the street, but being open to the possibility that a member of that group might be tolerable at least, means you open yourself to potentially enriching experiences (and hey, babysitting occasionally might bring in a few extra dollars…just sayin’).

EDIT: Upon further reflection, I realised I neglected an important point.

This point of view is socially acceptable within my own social circle: geeks, contrarians and other non-conformists. The majority of society would probably indeed be quite offended to hear someone say they hate children. I would be remiss if I ignored the issue that for those who do not naturally enjoy the company of children that there is constant pressure to assimilate, to breed, or to “just wait until you’re older.” There is definitely a prejudice against people who choose not to have children as a ‘natural part of life’ or the ‘logical next step in life.’ I fully support my child-free friends and I certainly do not think anyone should have kids just because ‘it’s what you do.’

Most people I socialise with reject social norms, question societal assumptions and are often involved in some sort of alternative lifestyle or social group. However, when they take it to the extreme position of “I hate kids,” what could be simply a rejection of the assumption that everyone does and should like all kids always because biology (as I always meant it), it is also a rejection of an entire group of people based on prejudice. Something which, for most people I know, is otherwise not acceptable and something which I never considered before.

Skeptic-schism Saturday: …and Skepchick has left the building.



Ok, this is certainly an interesting turn of events. Considering what I wrote almost precisely two years ago.

Rebecca Watson of Skepchick says:

“…the tragedy isn’t in the initial amount of harassment. It was (initially) only slightly more harassment than I had had to deal with in my every day life, after all, outside of this community. No, the tragedy is when the president of the organization that inspired me to join this community tells the world that women feel unsafe and unwelcome because of me.”

So, she has had enough. The original Skepchick has come full circle to see that  perhaps building your image on the idea that “Smart is Sexy” means some guys will extrapolate that to mean “I’m smart, so please have sex with me,” and that unless you have an organisation behind you that discourages that notion, they’re likely to act on that assumption. Funny, how when I made a similar complaint about how Skepchick was conducting itself, I got roundly rebuked for even making such a suggestion.

Rebecca was part of the reason I got interested in Skepticism, but when I pointed out that setting up an environment in which women were inherently sexualised within a group that attracts a lot of entitled males, might not be a great way to set up a safe space for women, I got shouted down and driven out of the forum (though not directly by Rebecca herself).

This has been a long time coming. Rebecca Watson’s attitude about the way women are treated and represented in skeptic and atheist events has been changing a lot recently. Especially since what has been dismissively referred to as “Elevatorgate” put her at the business end of some vicious, nasty, misogynistic male entitlement. I don’t think she brought this on herself, but  by reinforcing that entitlement in many ways through the activities of Skepchick she isn’t completely without blame. After all, for years the “Smart is Sexy” image has clashed with the women in skepticism who have felt that phrase alienates them. For many of us, smart doesn’t need to be sexy, it’s enough on its own. For a few more, we’re sick of our smartness being undermined by sexual or gendered comments. The response of Skepchick to these objections has been to say, “Well if you don’t like it, then go form your own organisation.” But now that all that campaigning to protect the privilege of sexiness has backfired, there seems to be a lot of backpedaling. Suddenly, they have found that empowerment that comes from sexualisation has depended on the approval of the men; once you say, “Hey, stop it,” or “Guys, don’t do this,” you are a “bitch” and a “cunt” and a “prick tease” and “deserve to be raped” for taking away their fun. Well knock me over with a feather.

But I know that, if I say that, I am missing the big picture, not to mention slut-shaming, victim-blaming and all that stuff that makes me go full-on FEMINIST HULK. I know the real problem isn’t what Skepchick does, or did. In some ways, I admit I missed this aspect of the big picture in my original objection to the Skepchick party’s theme. Yes, their attitude was problematic. But it’s the fact that this male entitlement exists in the first place that should get more attention. Yes, highlighting the contributions of ‘sexy’ women to the exclusion of women who don’t enjoy sexualising themselves contributed to that environment. But if I spend my time focusing on whether Skepchick’s new message about creating ‘safe spaces’ maybe seems a bit hypocritical in light of past actions, it seems to excuse the fact that if anyone suggests that maybe, some guys at these events are douchebags and that maybe, that’s why we can’t have nice things, they get verbally abused, bullied harrassed and treated like the enemy. Naming and shaming these particular douchebags is something that needs to happen so that we can manage this problem, without fear of being accused of ‘creating drama’ or dismissed as attention seeking (in spite of how, in the past, members of Skepchick have either engaged in it or condoned it). The point is that there are jerks out there that make it problematic by being jerks.

Yes, Skepchick could have noticed this earlier and could have been less concerned about promoting the brand and image and more inclusive to women.

Skepchick (the organisation) is a girl in a miniskirt, ordering shots at the bar and dancing to Ke$ha with her girlfriends. I may not like girls like that, but she is not the problem. The main problem is the sleazy guys who take the miniskirt as an invitation to come up behind her and grind on her butt without her consent. Sure, she’s not making it any better by looking at me in my t-shirt and jeans and saying, “Who let you in here looking like that? You’re reinforcing the stereotype of smart women!” But it is the sleazy dudes who make it not a safe space.

So I recognise some flaws in my initial argument against the Wild West Bordello. I still think it was a stupid idea, tacky and given how misogynistic some guys at these events are, maybe not in the best interest of all the women in attendance. But that was only part of the problem. The bigger problem was that the sexism and entitlement is there at all in the first place and everyone who jumped on me to tell me it wasn’t, are still doing that. And that just plain sucks ass.

Cute Glasses of the Week: Green Fairy



(These glasses are brought to you by

Several years ago, a friend gave me a small jar of absinthe she acquired from an overseas trip. She put it in a spice jar for transport. At the time, and for the first time having absinthe not in its original container, I realised something. Absinthe is basically NyQuil, but with a prettier bottle. Yuck. Not a fan, but I still like these glasses. 

Absinthe is illegal in the US for some highly dubious reasons. Like most drugs, this relatively harmless substance had some very high profile negative press and got itself banned. Wormwood, supposedly a hallucinogen was cited as a harmful social ill. What was really being banned was the subculture surrounding it: poets, progressives etc.

This was similarly true of most drugs classed as illegal

Marijuana: Jazz and African Americans

Cocaine: African Americans and the labouring class

Opium: Chinese immigrants

LSD: Hippies

Ecstasy: Ravers

The subculture is really what’s being prohibited, though the drug becomes the scapegoat. You can’t outlaw being Chinese, but you can start indiscriminitely arresting Chinese immigrants on suspicion of selling opium. Cigarettes, coffee and alcohol will never be illegal because they are mainstream and consumed by the dominant culture. 

I’m not backing any of this up with facts or references, because this is supposed to be a fun post. This all goes back to a recent conversation with my husband, whose book I’ll be reviewing later this week as it has now had its US release (hooray!). 

Cute Glasses of the Week: Tentacle Spectacles!



Lookit! They’ve got tentacles!

I should note, by the way, that these glasses are available from Zenni Optical.

These particular frames are #480818 and retail at $25.95

I am not paid to advertise, I just like cute glasses.

Now, about tentacles. I did tell someone I’d use this as an opportunity to wax on about the history and social significance of Japanese tentacle porn, but I’ve decided to leave that to someone else, and just let this be a tasteful picture of some cute glasses.

But still, tentacles!!!

Skeptic-schism Saturday (or Sunday): Skeptics lose another follower


The inaugural week of my attempt to blog more by having themes for particular days of the week, has been a success, in that I’ve stuck to my plan. However, I did plan to write about some teapot tempest within the skeptical movement yesterday, but ended up working on my resume instead. Priorities, yo. It just so happens that today I found an article to write about that fits nicely into my chosen weekend theme.

Today my good friend Kylie Sturgess  posted a link facebook to a blog post that while not without its flaws, strongly resonated with me. When questioned on why she chose to post it, Kylie said,

“…it’s an old article (‘last summer’) but after Jack [Scanlan] tweeted a link to it, elements were timely and got me reflecting.”

It’s called “Why I am no longer a skeptic”, and was written by Stephen Bond.

Bond writes that while he still values skepticism and science, he no longer feels the desire to identify as “a skeptic”. He then goes on to address several problems within the movement. For one, he feels that the skeptic movement tends to frame the current cultural conflict between science and faith with faith on the winning side.

 “…this is how skeptics like to portray themselves: an embattled minority standing up for science, the lone redoubt of reason in an irrational world, the vanguard against the old order of ignorance and superstition. As a skeptic, I was happy to accept this narrative and believe I was shoring up the barricades.”

However the majority of evidence, at least in countries like America, Britain and Australia, contradicts this.

“We live in a world created by and ever-more dependent on science, technology and reason, in which scientists and engineers are a valued and indispensable elite.”

Of course there are areas that can be shown to contradict this. New laws in Arizona, Tennessee and Texas to name a few, have begun to privilege certain religious beliefs especially in the areas of education and women’s reproductive rights. There are also other parts of the world that still privilege religion and other non-scientific philosophies. However, Bond’s point that these are often the exceptions rather than the rule, is still an important one. Despite efforts by a powerful and vocal minority, our society does value science and technology quite highly.

Bond goes on to make another important point: That while the values have changed, the appearance of the people in power has stayed roughly the same.

“…while nerds [are] a relatively new elite, they’re overwhelmingly the same as the old: rich, white, male, and desperate to hang onto what they’ve got. And I have come to realise that skepticism, in their hands, is just another tool to secure and advance their privileged position, and beat down their inferiors.”

He writes about the sexism within the movement, with which I have had my own experience , and the inherent Islamophobia, which has always made me particularly uncomfortable. Dressing racism, sexism, and ignorance up in ‘rationalist’ drag doesn’t help the movement’s image, let alone help address the supposed problems that totalitarianism and patriarchy cause within society.

The next section addresses a topic that I admit I don’t completely understand. He addresses what he sees as a problematic conflation of skeptical values with ‘neo-liberalism,’ a term I’m unfamiliar with. His political and philosophical arguments are a bit cloudy and without specific examples to tie them to, he has lost me for a bit. However, he does address a common problem I’ve witnessed: that so-called rationalists see philosophy as irrelevant because science has all the answers, while failing to acknowledge science itself as a philosophy. This lack of self-awareness means skeptics tend to de-value other modes of thinking in favour of the supremacy of science. He states:

“…I do not believe in the primacy of the scientific method as a source of knowledge. It might be the best we’ve got, but when it comes to human advancement — including the advance of science itself — other sources of knowledge can be just as useful, and often more important.”

He goes on to address the problems of failure to recognize the political aspects of science. He gives some examples of areas that would benefit from this awareness, but again, he has lost me in the details. I agree to the extent that failing to recognize the flaws in scientific philosophy, and enshrining science to the extent that we fail to see its shortcomings can be dangerous. However, I think it is a wishy-washy area. Sure, privileging science has social implications, and science is itself a social construct, but my brand of skepticism is inclusive of this problem. In other words, I’ve been questioning this for a long time, and other skeptics I know are aware of and address this problem frequently, even going so far as to write an outstanding new book about it. So it’s old territory for me.

Similarly the next section’s exhaustion with the constant ‘debunking’ of alt-med and Psi is fairly well-worn territory and I while I don’t disagree, I don’t fully agree either. Debunking still has a place, so long as John Edwards is raking in money for ‘talking to the dead’ that could better be spent on Alzheimer’s research that would benefit the living. Attacking debunking for me has become just as tired as debunking itself.

He raises more important issues in the next section. One that, again has been brought up frequently by others, but I still see as a major problem with what appears to be the goals of the skeptical movement. That it’s all well and good to promote the beauty of ‘reality based thinking’ however,

“…for most people, reality sucks. And if they choose to reject it, I can’t blame them. Proselytising skeptics certainly offer them no incentive to change their minds. Skeptics ask society’s castaways to leave a reality in which they are good and valued people, and enter one in which they are pieces of warm garbage. Little wonder that so few take up the offer.”

He also makes the claim that clinging to skepticism serves the same purpose for many as religion, another old argument.

In the penultimate paragraph he briefly compares skepticism to the positivists of the 19th century, however he touches on this so briefly, it’s almost not worth mentioning. The rest of the article is spent attacking the character and arguments of prominent voices within the skeptic community.  I am reminded of the embarrassing ‘debate’ between Richard Dawkins and Cardinal George Pell (or Pierced Anal Egg Roll as I will always think of him – thanks Catherine Deveny!) which I quite accurately predicted would be “two old white dudes talking past each other”. The flabbergasting ignorance of each of them about the other’s area of expertise, was only surpassed by their inability to recognise and address their completely different philosophical and linguistic perspectives.

Bond confesses an early admiration for Dawkins, but now can only see the flaws and narrowness of his arguments and attacks against the religious. He refers to an an article by a reasonable Christian journalist who sums up the major problem when Dawkins goes up against religious bigots:

“…both hide behind a shallow empiricism to justify their right-wing politics. When they come to pronounce on world events, they’re both equally ignorant and self-serving.”

He concludes by comparing his former skeptic identity to a band he no longer likes, and thus, has discarded.

I admit this article echoes many of my feelings about the skeptic movement. I agree with many of Bond’s points, however I still identify as a skeptic. Just as I still identify as an atheist although many other people using the same label repulse me. I cling to the label of skeptic because ultimately, I don’t really care about labels. They are shorthand to describe one aspect of me. I am a skeptic, but I’m not a Skeptic. I’m an atheist, but I’m not an Atheist. I’m also and actress, a mother, a blogger, a feminist, a nerd and a slut (you say that like it’s a bad thing). But I have never let any one of these labels alone define me. I get to change my t-shirt every day and still be me underneath. Just because I’m not wearing my Cure t-shirt doesn’t mean I no longer dance when I listen to Disintigration (I should have added ‘goth’ to the list above), and just because I no longer go to The Amaz!ng Meeting or contribute to online forums doesn’t mean I am not still a skeptic.

I also feel uncomfortable abandoning the label entirely because if I disavow it, it means that the “mean boys” get to keep it. More diversity within the skeptic movement is exactly what it needs. By removing a dissenting voice from the greater conversation, the voices within it will become more and more homogenized. Skeptics need more skepticism. That is, if everyone who criticizes the skeptic movement just leaves, there is nobody within the group to point out its flaws. Sure, there will be the strident bullies who try to silence those voices, but running away from the fight means they’ve won. Maybe by removing myself from pointless forum bickering, I’ve already made myself an outsider, but the name of my blog will stay the same. I hope that means every now and then someone will read it, or better yet link to it and I’ll get to keep my membership card.

Science Wednesday!


I did a search yesterday for a Science-y news story to write about. I am not a scientist, I am a science fan, so I’m probably not terribly qualified to write about a science topic, but my first official Science Wednesday topic does contain something I know about: rubber chickens! 

Basically, a group of high school students sent a rubber chicken, dubbed Camilla (I assume after Gonzo’s favourite chicken companion on the Muppet Show), into space.

Camilla’s trip was intended as a reconaissance flight in preparation for an astrobiology project loooking at whether microbes can live at the edge of space. She carried a modified department store lunchbox, containing four cameras, a cryogenic thermometer and two GPS trackers.

The payload also included seven insects and two dozen sunflower seeds of a variety known as “Sunspot” (Helianthus annuus).

Pretty cool.

This of course prompted me to wonder, from whence came the rubber chicken?

According to Wikipedia, the origins of this comedic icon are murky, but it’s become so commonly used in pop-culture that it doesn’t have to be funny in itself, it is simply a shorthand for “THIS IS A JOKE.” Often used as a weapon, or a juggling club, the rubber chicken just seems to be funny because “Hey, comedy, eh?” There are some theories of comedic linguistics (I may have just made that term up) that state that the ‘tsh’ and ‘k’ phonemes are the funniest, which, when combined with the trochee, makes ‘chicken’ one of the funniest words (some argue that it is the funniest) in the English language. Take that and add the visual:


A once plump bird stripped of its feathers, recalling both a naked human, and in its length and shape, a flaccid or erect (depending how you hold it) penis. Not to mention the obvious masturbatory pun, when grasping said chicken (cock) by its elongated neck. The material, rubber, is bouncy, pliable, elastic. It may also recall the medieval tradition of the King’s fool wearing a cockscomb. All in all: comedy gold.

I never really got the whole rubber chicken thing until I incorporated it into a comedy sketch I wrote. And somehow, as the poor stiff thing waved about from a string on the end of a stick, I got it. It’s just…funny.

So sending a rubber chicken into space makes some sort of sense to me. Because if a joke that tired can survive this long, surely it can resist cosmic radiation.

Cute Glasses of the Week



These adorable little blue-green tortoiseshell frames remind me of the first glasses I ever had.

Nostalgia break….

I was in 6th grade and had just started at St. Francis, the local Catholic school. I’d had a bit of a nervous breakdown at the public school, so my parents started me at the private school for my Junior High years. I got a good education there, though admittedly I got easily distracted. But who didn’t in their early teen years?

I was not terribly fond of my first glasses; they were a bit round and heavy.This meant avoiding wearing them a lot, which made me squinty. In 7th grade, I was only just realising my nerditude, as I started becoming slightly obsessed with Star Wars. This was partly due to my fascination with my brother’s Star Wars RPG sourcebooks, and partly due to a crush (and eventual first relationship) with a boy in my class. He had sideburns and dressed as Han Solo for Halloween. I’m not sure if it’s wishful thinking, but I think I was the only person who got his costume (15 years later, at a pop-culture convention, I was the only person to correctly identify someone’s costume as an Imperial Officer from Star Wars – yup, I’ve still got it).

Blog update!


This week my Uni course started up again, which means I’ve got plenty to do. And in the spirit of being busier and being more productive, I’ve decided to become much more frequent in my blog posts. This may mean my posts get worse, but the theory goes that the more I write the better I’ll get. Expect changes

Dear Atheists: Stop doing this.


I read a lot of feminist blogs (surprise, surprise) and I’m particularly fond of Bitch Magazine especially their regular ‘Douchebag Decree’ pieces which highlight a specific example of somebody being a horrible, horrible bigot. I get updates on Facebook when they post a new article, and today was a new Douchbag Decree.

I felt a wave of disgust and a strong urge to facepalm when I read it:

In an attempt to protest the Pennsylvania state House’s recent designation of 2012 as “The Year of the Bible” (which is admittedly messed up), two atheist groups went the fight-douche-with-douche route last week and erected a slavery-themed billboard in “one of the Harrisburg’s most racially diverse neighborhoods.” Ostensibly meant to highlight the hypocrisy of the “Year of the Bible,” the billboard instead pissed people off because it’s racist.

billboard depicting an illustration of a shackled black man. Text reads: Slaves, obey your masters. This lesson in the Bronze Age brought to you by the year of the bible and the house of representatives.

If I had three heads and 12 hands, I still wouldn’t be able to facepalm enough.

This is why I am tempted to stop identifying myself as an atheist: Organisations that keep trying to form a cohesive in-group by picking on, insulting, belittling and vilifying the out-group (not to mention coming across as horrifically racist).

Atheists, stop it. This is not helping. This is just as bad as Christians telling their kids they are going to hell if they think bad thoughts. What you do and say amongst members of your own group is one thing, but putting up billboards like this, which are so very easy to take out of context, is not helping any of us come out of the atheist closet. We need to be better than that. This is schoolyard bullying.

Sure, writing a book pointing out the hypocrisy of African Americans embracing a book that was once used to justify their enslavement is a good thing. But putting up a big billboard in a racially diverse neighbourhood and then insisting that it’s you who is oppressed? No. No. No. That is just making us all look bad. Not just bad, but racist and stupid and short-sighted.

How about this: get your act together and start a before school free breakfast for school children (like my dad used to do alonside the Black Panthers). Or how about this: organise a book van in underprivileged neighbourhoods and sponsor after-school tutoring programs in these same neighbourhoods. How about starting an ‘adopt an atheist’ fundraiser to get churches to donate money to your organisation and give some Christians a chance to get to know one of us so they can stop acting like we’re the enemy? I’m just spitballing, but all of these seem like they’d be a better way to reach out to communities than these billboards which are only going to polarise, rather than get people on your side.

Or wait… is this just a way to get people angry so you can feel like a victim? Is that what this is about? Because that’s a cycle of bullying that I’d like to see stop. I’d like people to see atheists NOT as an enemy. This kind of thing smacks of deficit thinking (i.e. there are limited resources and can only be one winner). Isn’t there enough resources and goodwill for us all? Can’t we fight for equality rather than supremecy? African American groups that sought to build bridges, that focused on ‘hey, we’re just like you’ were much more successful than the ‘kill whitey’ approach. Shouldn’t that tell you something? Like maybe, you should try not to alienate the very members of a group whose movement toward social acceptance and equality you are trying to emulate.

I’ll give them one thing, this Year of the Bible thing is pretty awful, but this is not the way to educate people. Presenting the other side is important. I think people should know the history of the Bible when studying it, and I think that most churches probably don’t do that. But as my Daddo, a Baptist minister used to say, “The only people who think the Bible should be taken literally are Fundamentalists and Atheists.” And more and more, that seems to be true.

Sidenote: I quoted my grandfather before on an Atheist Facebook group and got a apoplectic reply from the group’s moderator. Something along the lines of ‘I don’t see how someone could take it any other way! If you’re not taking it literally, then what’s the point?’ which reminded me that many atheists I seem to meet are either raised without biblical education or raised fundamentalist and rejected their upbringing. A lot of educated, reasonable, rational religious folk are able to take the bible as a historical document (not as an accurate history, but a historical artifact) and interpret the meanings, lessons and implications within it as a window into human nature and therefore, the nature of their god. Since I don’t believe in god, I see it as simply a window into human nature and history. I see what ways I connect with these bronze age goatherds, iron age propagandists and medieval holy men, and what ways I do not.