Integrity at Freethought Blogs

Having integrity means that you take action to enforce rules that are indeed based on clear standards of right and wrong even if doing so seems hurtful at times to certain individuals that otherwise are of value to a certain group. A clear example of this in my life is when I caught a  member of my World of Warcraft guild Stormchasers stealing from the guild’s bank to profit himself, causing me to expel him from the guild as punishment. This after he had offered to teach me and other members how to do better at player vs. player events. Sorry, but that does not allow you to ROB us!

Rules1Rules2Theft3Theft2TheftNow a network of bloggers has had to do the same to one of their own:

It is with great sadness that I announce that Avicenna Last of the A Million Gods blog has been removed from Freethought Blogs as a result of a long track record of plagiarism that we just became aware of. That sadness is brought on primarily by the fact that I consider Avi a friend and hold him in very high esteem (yes, even after this ethical lapse). Let me explain why.

Here’s what I know about Avi. More than anyone else on this network, and more than almost anyone else I know, he really gives of himself to those who need it most. This is a guy who has spent the last few years living in rural India, working in a clinic treating the desperately poor people of the area while making very little money. He has been away from his family and his fiance and living in conditions that he did not need to live in to do put his talent and training as a doctor to help people. During that time, he has also been sent around the world to trouble spots where the need is more immediate and acute, treating refugees after violent attacks and natural disasters. During that time, he has contracted malaria and several other nasty ailments as a result of his work. He’s a good man. A very good man. And I consider him a personal friend, which I strongly hope will not end with this action.

But facts are facts. The first I heard of this was about 15 hours ago. I pay no attention whatsoever to the slymepit as I prefer to avoid cesspools full of raging assholes. My initial response, given my affinity for Avi and the source of the accusations, was to dismiss it as much ado about nothing. I believed, with very little thought or effort to confirm, the initial speculation that someone had either gotten his password or that it was the result of some sort of technical glitch.

Then I got an email from Hemant Mehta, someone I also hold in high esteem and consider a friend, and he told me that he’d been looking into the evidence and found a powerful case for plagiarism, whether a result of intention or lack of concern for attribution. I emailed Avi and said, in essence, that you have to address this publicly and you have to tell the truth, whatever that is. I’m glad to see that he has now done so. Hemant also published the evidence he had found and he’s right, the case is pretty unassailable. All of this happened while I slept. When I woke up this morning, I looked at both Hemant and Avi’s posts about it and immediately decided to take the matter to the executive committee and recommend his expulsion from the network. The committee agreed.

And so do I.

The costs of slavery

Until the American Civil War ended, slavery was a common institution in the United States. Often portrayed as cheap, it still had costs associated with it. These included:

1. Obtaining the slaves: They were often kidnapped from Africa and shipped across the Atlantic Ocean under cramped conditions. That cost money. The slave trade was eventually abolished long before slavery ended, but that had the effect of making the slaves already in America more valuable.

2. Buying the slaves.

3. Giving the slaves food, water, clothing and shelter.

4. Treating the slaves of illnesses and injuries.

4. Guarding the slaves to prevent them from revolting or escaping.

5. Burying or cremating the slaves after they died.

Now compare that with people who work today at minimum wage. If you can only afford food to feed yourself and your children, a place to live at, medical expenses, and to pay for your funeral when you die, how are you any better off, materially speaking, than slaves 200 years ago?

And if you wonder why some want the minimum wage increased, that is why!

How NOT to rape someone

Here are some rules for men who do not want to be accused of raping a woman:

1. ALWAYS ask the women directly during a date in a private setting, “Do you want to have sex with me, and if so, when?”   If her response is anything other than, “Yes, and now,” drop the issue and do not bring it up again until she does.

2. Never talk about the experience of having sex with anyone other than a licensed therapist, your parents or other guardians (if you are underaged), or a clergyperson in a counseling session. PRIVATE MATTERS MUST REMAIN PRIVATE. Other men do not need to know how you “banged that hot chick last night”.

3. The claim that women claim to be raped because they regret having sex with a man long after the fact is simply self-serving bullshit. Do not repeat that claim, ever.

4. Even if you use protection or any form of birth control, PROMISE the woman that if she gets pregnant, you will either support the child or pay for an abortion, whichever she decides.

5. Do not merely be a woman’s sex partner… her LOVER. Be willing to share in anything she does or is involved in or ask her to share in things you enjoy. If you do not want a complete relationship with a woman, you can always masturbate by yourself.

6. Unless your partner is a porn star, you do not need to take or possess nude pics of her. And NEVER post them online!

That is all for now.  If I think of more, or if you have your own suggestions for rules, this list will be added to.

Tribute to Nick Josh Karean

Strictly speaking, as an Honorable Skeptic, I do not expect to have followers of my ethical philosophy. Nor am I a blind follower of anyone (because then I wouldn’t be a skeptic). No, not even Carl Sagan, though he was a idol of mine in childhood and he was one of my direct influences in the creation of my standard of ethics. But there is one person whose vision so closely mirrors my own, and even exceeds it in many ways, that I must pay tribute to him as a brother in arms against ignorance, superstition, and self-serving bigotry: Nick Josh Karean.

Facebook profile link:

YouTube Channel link:

He lives in a nation split between Buddhists, Muslims, Christians and Hindus, among other religious communities, yet he was a fundamentalist Christian early in his life, just as I was. Eventually, however, he learned to get away from that and developed critical thinking, becoming one of the strongest advocates for reason, science and objective truth I’ve ever known. He currently works in film making and visual effects.

I invite all who know me to also join with him.

Is this Justice?

Consider the following scenario:

An African-American restaurant owner in New York City learns that one of his white employees was born in Alabama.  He calls that employee to his office.

Owner: “Is it true you came from Alabama, a southern state?”

Employee:  “Yes. But I moved to New York four years ago.”

Owner:  “Then you are FIRED!  I won’t have racists working for me. More than half of our customers are African-American and I won’t risk you offending them with racist remarks.”

Employee: “What?! But have I done anything wrong?  If I was a racist, I would not be here!”

Owner:  “I used to live in the south. And virtually every white person I dealt with there was racist, constantly looking down on me and other black kids. I finally got out of that situation, and I’ll be damned if the bigotry follows me up here.”

Employee: “Well, don’t you think I am also sick of the bigotry of my fellow whites? I also left the south to live here because of the culture. YOU are the one being racist against ME because of both my skin color and where I was born.  I’m not responsible for either of those things!”

Owner: “You still benefited from the racism you grew up in, just as I suffered from it. Now you are going to learn how it feels to be discriminated against!  GET OUT!”

Truth in Advertising: Photoshopping must be outlawed.

Photoshopping is using a special computer program that manipulates a photo to alter its appearance. Models that appear on magazine covers often have their pictures photoshopped to make them look more attractive than they really are (according to some standard of beauty held in most of the Western world, but not a universal one).

This unethical practice has been criticized for giving most girls a terrible self image by making them compare their imperfect bodies to what they see in magazines. A similar  argument has been made about Barbie dolls, with their unrealistic body proportions, but at least pictures of Barbie dolls are not photoshopped. Doing that to actual human models should be considered fraud. And fraud IS illegal, so it is not a stretch to outlaw photoshopping and require all magazines, newspapers, and news websites to only publish pictures that are not photoshopped. We should be able to see what is real, not someone’s idea of beauty that is not real!