Lying to fight racism.

Racism is one of the ugliest things about human societies. But even uglier is telling lies to fight it, because once you start doing that, people of all races would be justified in questioning the credibility of anything you say or do.

Read this article to understand why:

NAACP leader of Washington state chapter Rachel Dolezal leaned on adoptive kid brothers to help her lie about being black

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The coming downfall of Wal-Mart

Seeing this news story made me laugh.

The most hated companies in America have a knack for angering people. Whether it’s due to inept management, subpar products, poor service, or lackluster stock performance, these businesses earn the wrath of customers, employees, and shareholders alike.
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The Usage of False Language

A long time ago, I wrote this:

Statutory Rape, a Legal Absurdity.

Having been a horny teenage boy, it seems clear to me that if I was seduced by an older woman, even if she was one of my teachers, I would not have considered myself a victim at all, but would have felt proud that she chose ME to be her sex partner! But at the same time, I would have known it to be a violation of the most basic standards of proper behavior in schools. As a willing participant in the sex acts, I would be just as guilty as the teacher and would also expect to be punished in some way. And yet, society still has this idea that someone below the age of “consent” (which varies in different countries and even different states in the USA) must automatically be called a “victim of child rape”. If that is not an obvious form of AGE DISCRIMINATION, what is?! Continue reading

A Lost History of the Baha’i Faith

Note:  This is a guest entry by Eric Stetson.


Dale Husband, a fellow Unitarian Universalist and former Baha’i, invited me to write a short summary of a book I edited which has recently been published, A Lost History of the Baha’i Faith: The Progressive Tradition of Baha’u’llah’s Forgotten Family.

lost-history-bahai-faith-coverThis book tells the story of the Baha’i faith through the writings of some of the children and grandchildren of its founder, and others who knew Baha’u’llah personally. They called themselves “Unitarian Baha’is” and stood for a broad-minded faith based on reason and individual freedom of conscience. Because of their liberal views and skepticism of absolute religious authority, they were excommunicated and shunned as the Baha’i faith developed into an organized religion. In fact, all but three descendants of Baha’u’llah – totaling dozens of people – were excommunicated by their own relatives who led the religion after its founder’s death.

The Baha’i faith was founded in the mid 1800s by a Persian nobleman in exile who claimed to be a new messenger of God. Baha’u’llah taught that all nations, races, and religions should come together to build a global civilization of peace and justice for all. Although Baha’i began as a pluralistic, reform-oriented offshoot of Islam, it quickly relapsed into a form of fundamentalism based on claims of infallibility by its leaders.

The Baha’i organization expects its members to believe that Baha’u’llah’s successors were perfect and infallible and that their interpretations and decisions can never be changed. A Lost History of the Baha’i Faith offers a different perspective on what Baha’i could have become – an Islamic-inspired faith with similar progressive values as Unitarian Universalism – if the Baha’i prophet’s own descendants had not been ostracized and expelled as heretics.

This book reveals how even liberal religious movements can be hijacked by dogmatic thinking. A cautionary tale for people of conscience of any faith.


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.