Gay Uganda

February 16, 2012

David Bahati doesn’t like gays. In fact, he dislikes them so passionately he wants them to be put to death. This wouldn’t matter a jot if David Bahati were some African version of Archie Bunker, sitting on his LazyBoy in front of his television with an open can of Tusker, watching a football game and fulminating against all and sundry; but David Bahati is a member of Uganda’s parliament and the National Resistance Movement, which is the ruling party in that splendid country. He has brought a Private Member’s Bill called the Anti-Homosexuality Bill (PDF) which, if passed, will ensure that no one’s member remains private. He wants life imprisonment for homosexual acts and the death sentence for what he regards as “aggravated” homosexuality–offences in which the perpetrator is either HIV positive, or seduces a minor, or is a serial offender.

Apart from the barbarity of penalties envisioned, the entire Bill is based on a false premise. The first paragraph of the Bill states:

This legislation further recognizes the fact that same sex attraction is not an innate and immutable characteristic.

But same sex attraction has been shown in numerous peer-reviewed research papers to be precisely an innate and immutable characteristic.
Here are some examples. But even if homosexuality were a choice and not an immutable characteristic, it would still not be excusable to pass legislation of this sort which seeks to criminalise consensual sexual behaviour between adults.
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Sex, Videotape and Lies

December 7, 2011

There is a controversy brewing over pornographic television channels. One of the two South African satellite television providers, TopTV, takes their signal from the Astra 4 satellite. Another broadcaster, PSat, uses the same satellite, although they are not licensed to broadcast into South Africa, so their signal is not sold here. All this hard core porn raining down unperceived upon the innocent citizenry has tweaked an entrepreneurial nerve. African Satellite Installations wants to sell us smartcards and decoders so, for the trivial sum of R99 (~$12 US) a month we can immerse ourselves in “pull-no-cumshots” content featuring “guy-on-girl, girl-on-girl and monstrous group orgies, all with the heterosexual viewer in mind”. So far, so good, but some snags have come up.

The first is that because the same satellite is used for the TopTV signal, people with existing TopTV satellite dishes will be able to use the same dish for the new channel; but they will have to get a new decoder and smart card. Well, so what? ASI said so, that’s what, so TopTV are litigating to get ASI to stop saying that which is true, i.e. that subscribers can use their existing TopTV antenna to receive the new signal. This is why I’m not a lawyer; anyone who can spend months in the High Court debating this utterly unimportant point must have a view of the minuscule that surely precludes them from seeing anything approaching the big picture, whether that picture is pornographic or not.
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Don’t Be a Dick

October 21, 2011

I think it was Phil Plait who said this. He was referring to the scorn and ridicule heaped upon believers in rubbish by those possessed of rational minds. He believes that the followers of psychics, homoeopaths, fortune-tellers, clairvoyants, metaphysicists, snake oil salesmen and religionists should be gently taken by the hand and offered rational arguments as to why their beliefs are misguided, upon which they will immediately see the light, embrace truth and become happy, well-adjusted, productive members of society. This is all very well, and is certainly a strategy that is used by some, but I have run out of patience and can no longer conceal the contempt I feel when encountering these individuals.

Those of you who have been following the Republican candidates for the presidency of the USA in the next elections will share my anger and bewilderment. The USA is militarily and economically the most powerful nation on the planet, and to think it could be led by one of these fractured minds is, well, unthinkable. Romney, Perry, Bachman, Palin are all members of religious cults, and would all put their imaginary god before their country or the well-being of the planet. Even Ron Paul (the best of a truly appalling bunch) would like to see creationism taught in school science classes. Seriously, would you entrust the running of a hot dog stand to someone who professes to believe in talking snakes, zombies and flying horses? If you are sane, your answer would probably be no, but one such may soon have his finger on the button again. Yes, Billy–the Big Red One.
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Blind Faith

October 5, 2011

I think I’ve have stated in the past that I’d rather rip out my own eyeballs rather than attend a church service, but I didn’t really mean it literally.

Mr Aldo Bianchini, however, is made of sterner stuff. Perhaps the sermon was of such spine-liquefying boredom, or the stench of the pious became impossible to stomach, or he suddenly realised he had devoted half a lifetime to believing hogwash, but he actually did rip his eyeballs out during a service in northern Italy.

Blood poured copiously from his vacant sockets, paramedics were summoned, and, no doubt, prayers were offered. At the hospital, doctors attempted to cram the eyeballs back into their sockets, but it was like trying to stuff toothpaste back into its tube. Poor Mr Bianchini will be blind for the rest of his life.
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For Goat’s Sake

August 31, 2011

(Reuters) – Police in Nigeria are holding a goat on suspicion of attempted armed robbery.

Vigilantes took the black and white beast to the police saying it was an armed robber who had used black magic to transform himself into a goat to escape arrest after trying to steal a Mazda 323.

“The group of vigilante men came to report that while they were on patrol they saw some hoodlums attempting to rob a car. They pursued them. However one of them escaped while the other turned into a goat,” Kwara state police spokesman Tunde Mohammed told Reuters by telephone.

“We cannot confirm the story, but the goat is in our custody. We cannot base our information on something mystical. It is something that has to be proved scientifically, that a human being turned into a goat,” he said.

Belief in witchcraft is widespread in parts of Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation. Residents came to the police station to see the goat, photographed in one national newspaper on its knees next to a pile of straw.

Just for now I have no comment.


Sam Harris v Mandy De Waal

July 29, 2011

There seems to be a lot of Sam Harris bashing of late, and the latest example of this is Mandy De Waal’s “Islamophobia and Sam Harris’ tyranny of ‘reason’” in the Daily Maverick.

Sam Harris

Her article is, on the face of it, an attack on Harris’ anti-Islam stance, but a cursory analysis of the language she uses reveals that it is an attack on atheism and atheists in general. For example she says that Harris “intellectually clubs spiritual ‘gurus’ like Chopra, in much the same way fur hunters club baby seals.” Just to make sure we get the point that the spiritual and religious are cute and cuddly and atheists are filled with adamantine ruthlessness, she goes on in the following paragraph: “Intellectually clubbing seals is a practice fairly common among atheists”. She quotes Alister Mcgrath who called Richard Dawkins “Darwin’s Rottweiler”, promotes Harris’ atheism to a more general “misanthropy”, claims that Harris “grinds in the heel of hatred”, describes his followers as “rabid”, and his ideas are “hate speech”.
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Priests and Vampires

July 20, 2011

The Jasna Góra Catholic monastery near the town of Czȩstochowa in Poland is over six centuries old, having been founded by Pauline monks in 1382. It is the home of the famous Black Madonna, an icon credited with several alleged miracles. It is also the site of a conference of exorcists held every two years.

The Black Madonna

Exorcism is the driving out of so-called evil spirits by priests of the church. That there is no evidence whatsoever that these evil spirits exist is neither here nor there, they provide a ready excuse for a junket to Jasna Góra where, no doubt, the priests will partake lavishly of the excellent wines and delectable dishes of the region.
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