Questionable Motives

January 4, 2012

How do Islamic nations abuse the United Nations?

I have written many times about this push by Islamic states at the United Nations to outlaw blasphemy through the UN Human Rights Council, to make it a ‘human rights’ violation to dare to criticize this odious religion. They have now succeeded. Resolution 16/18 is all about combating intolerance, negative stereotyping and stigmatization of, and discrimination, incitement to violence and violence against, persons based on religion or belief.

The problem here is that some religious beliefs like Islam are themselves intolerant and discriminating against universal human rights and are in desperate need of sustained reasonable and rational criticism. The irony of fooling western secular democratic representatives at the UN into supporting this obscene piece of tripe by those whose sole intention is to undermine human rights and put all of us under the yoke of their assumed religious authority is rank and shows just how colossal is our collective stupidity in thinking that tolerating intolerance under the guise of respecting religion magically enhances human rights. It doesn’t. It enslaves us by undermining our human rights and replacing them with religious authority.

All those who voted in favour of this Resolution are a menace to all people everywhere and every single western secular democracy should denounce this Resolution in the strongest possible terms. Our governments need to fire those who dared to use their democratic vote representing us at the UN to undermine our basic democratic right to freedom of speech. Such decisions as this Resolution are incompatible with showing support and respect for human rights. This Resolution is a travesty, an abuse of democracy at the UN to reduce human rights in order to protect vile religious sensibilities from criticism.

But perhaps the most disturbing part of this disgusting Resolution is the notion of resorting to use  ‘combat’ against those who dare to criticize anti-human, anti-life authoritarian religious belief.  This open door to combat justified intolerance, justified discrimination, justified condemnation of religious authority, now needs to be closed firmly in the face of these religious stormtroopers who have a Resolution from the UN Human  Rights Council to intrude into your home, your head, your thoughts, your opinions and cartoons and editorials and blogs and commentary, and subject you by threat of force to paying homage to their religious beliefs that reduce your human rights.

For shame, people. For shame.

September 28, 2011

What ever happened to Baby Joseph, ‘saved’ by the Priests for Life stormtroopers from the evil clutches of Canadian health care?

Back on March 22 of this year, I posted about why Priests for Life are theological thugs, fanatical religious stormtroopers who prey on the hopes of others to aid and abet and revel in the unnecessary suffering of others in the name of  honouring their god. Their latest victim was Baby Joseph Maracchli who, in October of 2010 at 10 months of age developed a brain fever and became vegetative just like another previous child of the Maracchlis. The family wanted a tracheotomy performed so that they could take the baby home to die but the hospital disagreed on compassionate medical grounds:

Eight physicians at LSHC were unanimously of the opinion that Joseph had no hope of recovery, and there was no possible treatment that could reverse his condition. They quite rightly pointed out what was obvious that he would never get out of bed nor interact meaningfully with his environment. As responsible and caring medical professionals, the doctors sought a second opinion from colleagues in Toronto. The director of the critical care unit for Sick Children’s Hospital in Toronto (a world class facility and recognized leader for pediatric medical care) there agreed that further treatment was futile. Joseph’s doctors therefore proposed removing the tube that was assisting his breathing. If he could breathe unaided, he would go home to be cared for by his parents. If not, he would be given medication to ensure that he did not suffer, and allowed to die. A Canadian Superior Court judge ruled in favor of the Canadian hospital, ordering the life support removed.

This is when the Priest for Life entered and through their efforts helped make this sad story into a fundraising campaign, where they spent a considerable amount of donated money to fly the baby to St. Louis and have the tracheotomy. From their warped point of view, the priests were ‘saviors’ of the baby, vilifying the baby’s Canadian health care team in the process. The baby was released at the end of April and went home to Windsor Ontario.

Today, the Windsor Star reports:

Br. Paul O’Donnell, Major Superior at Franciscan Brothers of Peace, posted a message posted early Wednesday reported Baby Joseph had died.

“It is with great sadness that I report to you the passing of our dear Baby Joseph Maraachli. He passed away peacefully at home with his parents and family at his side. Praise God he had seven precious months with his family to be surrounded by love and was not put to death at the hands of doctors. May Joseph rest in the loving arms of his Heavenly Father surrounded by all the angels.”

Back in March, I pointed out that:

What is not reported very widely is that the couple’s first child who suffered from the same condition did receive a tracheotomy, at the parents insistence, and died a horrific death at home. That child suffered from infection, followed by pneumonia and eventually choked to death… it just took six months of additional suffering for this to happen. The physicians were rightly concerned on behalf of the quality of life of their patient to do as the family asked.

This time it took only five additional months for the baby to die after our priestly heroes intervened. They’re slipping as they get older, I guess, but any additional unnecessary suffering is a real feather in their theological caps.

March 22, 2011

Why are Priests for Life theological thugs?

First, who is Baby Joesph Maracchli and second, what’s the big deal about his medical care?

Joseph Maracchli, the son of Lebanese immigrants, was born on January 22, 2010, and his parents say they noticed he couldn’t eat or breathe properly and wouldn’t open his eyes or cry. The family, who lives in Windsor, Ontario on the Canada – United States border near Michigan, took him to a Michigan hospital in June 2010, where he was diagnosed with a metabolic brain disease, which the doctor said would make him developmentally delayed. Maracchli was treated and returned to normal after a month. However, in October 2010 he developed a fever and was breathing rapidly and was rushed to the emergency room and later transferred to the London Health Sciences Centre in London (LHSC), Ontario. The hospital said he was in a persistent vegetative state from which he would never recover. Maracchli’s family wanted the staff there to do a tracheotomy so that they could take him home and he could die in the care of his family instead of a hospital. Sounds pretty reasonable, doesn’t it?

What is not reported very widely is that the couple’s first child who suffered from the same condition did receive a tracheotomy, at the parents insistence, and died a horrific death at home. That child suffered from infection, followed by pneumonia and eventually choked to death… it just took six months of additional suffering for this to happen. The physicians were rightly concerned on behalf of the quality of life of their patient to do as the family asked.

Eight physicians at LSHC were unanimously of the opinion that Joseph had no hope of recovery, and there was no possible treatment that could reverse his condition. They quite rightly pointed out what was obvious that he would never get out of bed nor interact meaningfully with his environment. As responsible and caring medical professionals, the doctors sought a second opinion from colleagues in Toronto. The director of the critical care unit for Sick Children’s Hospital in Toronto (a world class facility and recognized leader for pediatric medical care) there agreed that further treatment was futile. Joseph’s doctors therefore proposed removing the tube that was assisting his breathing. If he could breathe unaided, he would go home to be cared for by his parents. If not, he would be given medication to ensure that he did not suffer, and allowed to die. A Canadian Superior Court judge ruled in favor of the Canadian hospital, ordering the life support removed.

Enter our heroes, the Priests for Life, those celibate men of the cloth who (incredibly and without shame) think their religious beliefs equip them with the kind of god-soaked moral knowledge necessary to determine proper medical treatment over and above a team of highly trained and specialized medical professionals who actually care for children as their daily job. Let us keep in mind that there has never been a suffering life these meddling priests have not tried to prolong. The Terri Schiavo debacle immediately comes to mind.

Peter Singer, professor of bioethics at Princeton University picks up the story:

Little Joseph Maraachli is a new poster boy for the “pro-life” movement. But what has happened to him should instead teach us what to do – and what not to do – if we are really serious about saving human lives. The 13-month-old from Canada, who has been having medical treatment for most of his short life, suffers from a severe neurodegenerative disease. He has difficulty breathing on his own. His head is small for his age and has not grown for three months. He has seizures. His pupils do not respond to light or follow a moving object. His movements are not purposeful.

Then Priests for Life, a Catholic -abortion and anti-euthanasia organization stepped in, chartering an air ambulance to fly Joseph from Canada to Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center, a Catholic hospital, in St. Louis, which will perform the operation the parents requested.

“We Rescued Baby Joseph!” says a page on the Priests for Life website. The organization’s director, the Rev. Frank Pavone, says he has been told that it could cost as much as $150,000 for Joseph’s stay in the pediatric intensive care unit. That doesn’t include the cost of the aircraft, which would have added thousands more to the bill. Priests for Life is, of course, asking its supporters to donate to pay these costs.

Here’s the irony. According to the most rigorous charity evaluation agency in the country, GiveWell.org, you can save a child’s life for about $1,000. All you have to do is give the money to their top-rated charity, Village Reach, which delivers vaccines and other urgently needed medical supplies to rural areas in developing countries.

If Priests for Life were really serious about saving lives, instead of “rescuing” Joseph so he can live another few months lying in bed, unable to experience the normal joys of childhood, let alone become an adult, they could have used the money they have raised to save 150 lives – most of them children who would have gone on to live healthy, happy lives for 50 years or more.

We’ve seen such things happen before. In 2005 the anti-abortion movement put a huge effort, and large sums of money, into “saving” Terri Schiavo. In the end, after Congress had been recalled specifically to enable a federal court to hear the case, she was allowed to die. An autopsy showed her brain had been severely and irreversibly damaged.

We can obsess over Joseph and Terri – or we can make an honest effort to save the lives of countless children whose names we may never know. It is our choice.

But the Priests for Life don’t want to save lives in the sense of protecting the dignity of those who are already alive yet suffering; they want to prolong the biological functioning of a body regardless of the suffering… the younger the better and a fetus especially, even if it kills women to do so. Since becoming involved in the medical treatment of Baby Joseph, the Priests for Life have mobilized support from the likes of the Hope Network and the legions of catholics and christians who think these groups do god’s work. Now the medical staff at LSHC have been the recipients of the kind of faith-based love the anti-abortion crowd – championed as they are by Priests for Life – sends out to those who disagree with their beliefs: hate mail and death threats.

Oh, I can hear the faithful claiming loudly that those extremists don’t represent the mainstream religious.

But they do.

You see, Priests for Life and the anti-choice crowd are no different than the mainstream believers in that they don’t give a rat’s ass respecting your life;  they care only for life, which according to their beliefs belongs not to you but their god. And they will continue to act accordingly not to respect your rights and freedoms as an autonomous individual where dignity of personhood must reside, if the term ‘personal dignity’ is to have any personal meaning, but as god’s Stormtroopers out to protect what belongs to him. That’s why they’re theological thugs and are empowered by those who respect their beliefs about what god owns over and above respecting your personal dignity.

August 16, 2010

Catholic evidence of an alternative universe?

Yup. Michael Voris of The Vortex shows us clear evidence how his faith allows him to live in alternative universe while using the rights and freedoms found in this universe within his country’s secular society to advocate that all of us should join him there.

(Tip to Pharyngula)

April 24, 2010

Is belief innocuous?

A common criticism of atheism is that it promotes a militant version of liberal conventional wisdom as the all-purpose solution for human ills, another kind of belief (like religious belief) that the solution to the world’s problems can be found by the withering away of religion through the continuing advancement of science and knowledge. The old and flawed canard to argue against this wisdom relies on pulling in Hitler, Stalin, and Pol Pot to represent this other-kind of belief identified as atheism in action, as if religious belief is not only a reasonable alternative to this cold and barbaric totalitarianism diametrically opposed to liberalism but one that is necessary to protect us from the inevitable ravages of atheism in action.

I have already explained why atheism is by definition is not another kind of belief (hence the importance of precursor word ‘non’) but simply a label that refutes the acceptance of any kind of supernatural mechanism to explain cause with effect. When any kind of supernatural mechanism is suggested as this link between cause and effect, I think we have a duty (at least to intellectual honesty) to dismiss the claim as unjustified. No matter what the claim may be – be it about homeopathy and the claim that water retain a ‘memory’ to demonic possession, from a tripartite god who cures leprosy to one who causes geological vengeance because of the attire of women – we need to reject that belief on the merit that it is an unjustified belief. Belief in a specific yet unknown supernatural mechanism between cause and effect simply is not justified because it is an incoherent assumption masquerading as something real and knowable. But under consideration is the question whether or not holding such beliefs is innocuous?

Consider this excerpt from this article Akwa-Ibom Child Witches:

From Nigeria to Congo, Kenya to Tanzania, The Gambia to Cameroon, there are reported cases of teens been hacked to death, toddlers being drowned in rivers, adolescent being macheted by frustrated men and women all because someone CONFIRMED spiritually that THEY ARE WITCHES! As an African, belief in witchcraft is not alien to me neither is the news of stoning to death of many confirmed by native spiritualists to be a witch.

If we move away from the specific and horrific actions justified by this specific belief – in this case the veracity of witchcraft – and look at any kind of belief as a stand-alone means to legitimately know anything whatsoever about linking cause with effect, then it becomes apparent that belief is an ending point to any gaining of knowledge. Believing something to be true and being satisfied with this assumption cannot be the beginning of an honest inquiry but its ending. It is a substitute answer – and one empty of knowledge. Belief is not an equivalent kind of knowledge whatsoever for any truth claim, as is suggested by those who wish to protect us from the ravages of atheistic belief that leads to totalitarianism and who support and apologize for the absurdity of non-overlapping magisteria for knowledge (those who support the notion that science answers one kind of question – the ‘how’ questions – while religion answers another kind of question – the ‘why’ questions) . Belief is a shortcut that attempts to persuade us to accept ignorance as another kind of knowledge, a different way to know, pretending to answer ‘why’ questions with anything other that pure speculation and assumption. This is false because at its root, belief in a supernatural intervention between cause and effect is simply a hypothesis – a truth claim unsubstantiated and unverified presented as some kind of informed answer when it clearly is not. It remains an assumption that is held to be true. Non belief, then,  is the opposite of this assertion – an insistence that any truth claims about the natural universe and anything within it must be substantiated and verified by some natural means other than more assumption to count as knowledge, to be considered informed.

Any time anyone acts on the conclusion that some belief is justified by merit of it being based on a belief, then that action  is unjustified. When we allow belief to be any kind of legitimate engine that drives actions rather than knowledge, then we are arguing that acting out of ignorance is synonymous to acting out of knowledge and both as legitimate as the other. This is patently false and people – believers and non believers – do not act this way: we don’t rush a injured or sick loved one to a brick layer because we honestly think that medical ignorance is the equivalent of medical expertise; we recognize that having knowledge is opposite to not having knowledge. Yet when it comes to belief and non belief, many seem to struggle with the notion of opposites.

Belief removed from any action in its name may seem to be innocuous but when ignorant beliefs informs ignorant actions, then belief is not innocuous. The children accused of witchcraft and treated accordingly by believers of witchcraft stand in testimony of the very real cost of belief in action.

March 27, 2010

What is wrong with liberal apologists?

Nick Cohen brings us an answer from Standpoint magazine about how the far left has joined the far right:

The Conservatives’ main complaint about the borderless Left used to be that it allowed huge double standards. Polite society embraced ex- or actual communists and Trotskyists and treated them with a consideration they would have never extended to ex- or actual Nazis. The refusal of 21st-century left-wing and liberal opinion to separate itself from radical Islam is, however, a living disgrace with disastrous consequences for Europe.

You can see them everywhere if you are willing to look. In January, for instance, Harriet Harman and Ed Miliband attended a “Progressive London” conference packed with the supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood, which believes in the establishment of a totalitarian theocracy. George Galloway, who saluted the courage of Saddam Hussein, was there too, inevitably, as was Tariq Ramadan, the shifty academic who thinks there should only be a “moratorium” on the stoning to death of adulterous women rather than an outright ban. Imagine the fuss if, say, William Hague and Michael Gove had gone to a conference on the future of right-wing politics in London and joined members of the BNP, a far-right politician who had saluted the courage of Augusto Pinochet and an academic who argued for a “moratorium” on black immigration to Britain. The BBC would have exploded. It, along with everyone else, kept quiet, of course, about Harman and Miliband because they were from the Left and therefore could never be beyond the pale.

Nominally left-wing politicians’ appeasement of religious reactionaries is so routine that it takes a convulsive event to reveal the extent of liberal perfidy. The reaction of University College London to the news that its alumnus Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab had tried to blow up a plane over Detroit on Christmas Day should have provided the shock therapy. The connection between British-bred extremism and mass murder was there for all to see, except that the authorities did not want to look.

I can see no more important task at present than working out how European liberalism has gone so badly wrong. Why does a culture that prides itself on its opposition to bigotry become so feeble when it confronts bigots dressed in the black robes of clerical reaction? Until we understand, we cannot cure, and there is an emerging understanding among those who worry about the dark turn liberals have taken that Western guilt lies at the root of their moral failure.

Ever since the Rushdie affair, the fear of religious violence has buzzed in the heads of liberal Europeans. The Islamists bombed London and Madrid, murdered Theo van Gogh, drove Ayaan Hirsi Ali into exile and forced politicians, most notably Muslim women politicians, to accept armed guards. On the scale of suffering in the world, Islamist violence in Europe is nothing remarkable. But a little fear goes a long way in rich and comfortable societies and sometimes the trouble with the liberals is not their guilt but that they do not begin to feel guilty enough about their cowardice and complicity.

March 4, 2010

What’s not to love about how Hitchens speaks his mind?

Hitchens On theism:

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