Questionable Motives

May 18, 2012

What’s with all the censoring at religious blogs?

Filed under: belief,blogs,censorship,commentary,Criticism,Religion — tildeb @ 11:44 am

So here’s the motivating story:

Hannah Luce, daughter of Teen Mania founder Ron Luce, is continuing to improve as she recovers from a plane crash last Friday. She was the sole survivor among the five on board.

“The fact that Hannah is here with us is a miracle, and while I am overjoyed and so thankful to God that she’s here, I am also deeply saddened at the loss of Austin, Stephen, Garrett and Luke,” Ron Luce wrote Tuesday on his blog. “I can’t even begin to understand the pain their parents are feeling right now.”

And here’s the lovely poem (written originally about a case in which a man survived a fall from a skyscraper, with only 10 broken bones -both legs, right arm, multiple ribs, vertebrae. His brother was killed in the accident.) that was posted to in response to the notion of this plane crash ‘miracle’:

I always found it rather odd
When people think to credit God;
The doctors helped, at least a bit,
The rescue workers didn’t quit,
The strangers there, who saw him fall
And made the first responder call
So many people did so much
But still we see His Holy Touch–
You see, it seems the signs are there
That show this man has seen God’s care:
The shattered ankle, broken shin
The shards of bone that pierce through skin
The massive bleeding in his gut–
Yes, every fracture, every cut–
This is the way that God Above
Displays His omnipresent Love.
And just in case He’s still denied
Remember, this man’s brother died.
Such agony makes Man aware
Of just how precious is God’s care
And when Humanity forgets,
God has a way to hedge His bets:
He’ll find a patsy, just some guy,
Like this Moreno, way up high–
When disbelievers start to scoff
God simply pushes this guy off;
With bleeding, pain, and broken bone,
God shows us that we’re not alone,
With just a little Godly shove,
He gets a chance to prove His Love.

Apparently, the comment was deleted (or so I read over at Digital Cuttlefish).

I am always disappointed that so many ‘christian’ blogs seem to be so willing and even eager to moderate and censor even the most gentle criticism of any kind… assuming they even allow for any comments at all. They are not alone, of course; I’ve been censored at non religious sites, too (usually by perpetual moderation or a sudden disappearance of a comment – I’m looking at YOU, Chris Mooney at The Intersection, and YOU Sabio Lantz at Triangulations), but it is almost unusual not to be moderated at religious ones.  So my hat is off to anyone willing to submit their religious ideas and beliefs and commentary to public scrutiny and allow criticism; they seem to be few and far between. My latest forays include Tough Questions Answered, The Berean Observer, No Apologies Allowed, Rachel Evans, and The Search for Truth.

So my question is, do you have any you favour? If so, give them a shout out here – good, bad, or even ugly ones – and feel free to share any stories about your experiences.

May 12, 2010

How much is freedom of expression worth?

Filed under: censorship,Islam,religiously inspired violence — tildeb @ 10:04 am

Apparently, the most recent islamic bounty to kill those who dare exercise such rights is about $100,000 for a cartoonist and another $50,000 of an editor willing to publish the cartoon… at least in Sweden. Of course, there will be those who say that such bounties don’t really reflect any true values of the religion of peace, but it’s a head-scratching mystery why (some, many) those who take offense to a religious caricature in cartoon form are then willing to resort to real life violence as if such action were religiously justified.

Oh, wait…

Might that actually be the case? Might the religious justification for violence in its name accurately reflect the inherit disrespect for freedom of expression within that religion? In other words, as long as everyone respects the religion and its claims over and above respect for basic human freedoms, then it really is a religion of peace… except when (some, many) believers face dissent, in which case it’s just as much a religion of violence.

The sooner the moderates of islam recognize this discrepancy as part and parcel of their faith, the sooner its evolution into a civilized expression of peaceful religious faith can occur. In the meantime, this is what freedom of expression and islam look like when they meet in a lecture hall.

April 4, 2010

Why should we marginalise ideas based on religious legitimacy?

Russell Blackford explains why in this post from which I taken some excerpts and added bold face:

Some ideas do merit marginalisation, and some opponents do lack intellectual legitimacy. That isn’t to say that these ideas and opponents should be censored. There are many reasons why it is best to allow people to speak their minds. But the political freedom to speak your mind does not entail a right to be taken seriously or given deference, or even to be accorded intellectual legitimacy. Indeed, there are plenty of ideas that people should be free to advocate, but which are so clearly foolish or even repugnant that they will, quite rightly, be ignored or treated with derision. Often, ideas that are treated with respect in one generation come to fall in this category in later generations.

For example, a contemporary defence of slavery would fall on deaf ears. Or it might, depending on its context and the way it was expressed, provoke nervous laughter, scorn, repugnance, or even fear. It would not receive a respectful hearing, and anyone who put this idea forward would instantly lose all intellectual credibility (at least in Australia!).

Furthermore, to take less troubling matters, it is unlikely that anyone advocating public policy by telling us that her proposals are in accordance with the will of Aphrodite or Zeus or Odin would receive a respectful hearing in 21st-century Australia. She should be allowed to put her case, can try to persuade us that it is not so outrageous, that it deserves a respectful hearing, and so on. However, the playing field is tilted against her speech, and again quite properly. The onus is on her to explain why not. Prima facie, the will of Zeus is a very poor reason for public policy, and anyone claiming otherwise will, quite properly, be marginalised in serious policy debates.

Of course, we should not censor someone who wants to defend slavery. They should have that freedom. They can plug away with their arguments and try to persuade us to take them seriously. But the playing field is strongly tilted against them, and quite properly so. The onus is on them to explain why it shouldn’t be. Likewise for someone who advocates torture or suicide bombing or female genital mutilation or forced abortions.

But some ideas, though not censored, should be given only a marginal place in our society. In every generation, we continue to debate which those are. I am hopeful that future generations will include not only the examples I’ve given, such as the ideas of reinstituting slavery or punishing homosexuals, but also such examples as the ludicrous idea that the Earth is only 6000 years old (contrary to all conclusions from rational investigation). Likewise for the idea that there is something even “sinful” about (as opposed to grounds for banning) consenting homosexual conduct between sufficiently mature people, or that “sin” attaches to the use of contraceptives or to masturbation. Like the advocacy of slavery, these foolish ideas no longer deserve a level playing field in our society. Let them be freely derided, ridiculed, and driven to the margins. The sooner, the better.

March 9, 2010

What’s wrong with a bit of censorship?

Filed under: censorship,Cosmetic surgery,Gender,Medicine — tildeb @ 2:38 pm

Over at Is It Luck? is an investigative journalism video under the heading of Video Break about what constitutes a normal vagina and labia.

Sort of.

What the video is really about is the unintended effect of state censorship, in this case on what is perceived to be ‘normal’ regarding the look of a vagina and labia. I would present the video here but YouTube in effect censors me from doing so.

In order for magazines to meet the criteria of what an ‘unoffensive’ vagina and labia must look like in order for a picture to be published set out by censoring board, graphic artists working for the various publications commonly cut and paste the pictures of the genital region of real women to meet the board’s standards. Because few people go around examining large numbers of vaginas to compare and contrast and arrive at some notion of what is ‘normal’, these publications substitute a very consistent image to the public, one that suits the aesthetic tastes of the censor board’s members and not what is true, and thus the censor board in effect determines the notion what a vagina and labia should look like to be considered normal! Talk about a cultural meme…

The rise in the numb er of female cosmetic surgeries of the vagina and labia requested by young women is attributed to matching their body parts to what these young women perceive to be ‘normal’, whereas the sanctioned and consistent image in all these publications is in fact what is actually abnormal. We can pretend that the blame for the spreading of this lie belongs to the publication industry that produces the images, thus empowering the calls for more strict censorship in the name of protecting ‘decency’ and reducing the number of unnecessary surgeries and medical complications that can result. But the truth cuts a little deeper: it is the censoring boards that promote their version of what is acceptable rather than what is true that undermines the confidence many young and beautiful women should have in their bodies and which, in turn, fuels the call for more unnecessary cosmetic surgeries to fix something that only the censor boards promotes as broken.

March 6, 2010

What does a good Catholic education teach us that a public one doesn’t?

Well, a clear distinction between catholic and public education is how each teaches important lessons about respecting individual civil rights and the dignity of personhood. The catholic lesson includes why it is only right and proper that children be held accountable for the actions of their parents!

A preschool student at a Catholic school in Boulder will not be allowed to return next school year because of what is going on at home.

The student’s parents are two women and the Denver Archdiocese says their homosexual relationship violates the school’s beliefs and policy.

According to teachers at Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic School, a meeting was held Tuesday to discuss the issue. The staff was told a student would not be allowed to re-enroll because of his or her parents’ sexual orientation. The staff members were also told not to talk to the media.

In a statement sent to 9NEWS, the Archdiocese said, “Homosexual couples living together as a couple are in disaccord with Catholic teaching.”

According to the Archdiocese, parents who enroll their kids at Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic School are expected to follow the Catholic Church’s beliefs.

“No person shall be admitted as a student in any Catholic school unless that person and his/her parent(s) subscribe to the school’s philosophy and agree to abide by the educational policies and regulations of the school and Archdiocese,” the statement said.

Because this student’s parents are homosexual, the Archdiocese says they were in clear violation of the school’s policy.

School staff members, who asked to remain anonymous, say they are disgusted by the Archdiocese’s decision.

One employee said she could not believe a student will have to suffer because of his or her parents’ sexual orientation.

The Archdiocese also told 9NEWS, “Parents living in open discord with Catholic teaching in areas of faith and morals unfortunately choose by their actions to disqualify their children from enrollment.”

Staff members said they were not allowed to discuss the decision after it was made. Some of them said they were disheartened to work at a school that preaches peace and love, but also makes this decision.

According to legal experts, it is legal for the Archdiocese to deny a student enrollment because of the school’s policy.

Even if that policy is religiously inspired bigotry.

There you go, boys and girls. Once again, the grand ol’ Mother Church has no problem speaking out of one side of its mouth but consistently acting in a contrary way. So stop thinking for yourself and seeing heaps of evidence how ludicrous and hypocritical is the catholic claim that its actions reflect a divinely inspired morality. Just accept its institutionalized bigotry as god’s will and quit your griping. Remember: homosexuality bad, bigotry good (and pedophilia – shhh – by catholic clergy unfortunate). But for god’s sake, and the sake of creating the next generation of catholics who support bigotry, keep sending your kids there.

February 1, 2010

How can the United States become a loser in a competitive world?

It’s easy: just follow and implement the Texas State Republican Platform!

With its clearly laid out plan that says one thing that seems a step in the right direction only to advocate guidelines that will achieve its opposite, this is a timely and important document to turn a great state into a laughing stock, a proud state into a righteously pious theocracy, an able state to alter intelligent and capable children into idiots.

Well done,  Texas!

January 7, 2010

Is self-censorship the way to avoid offending anyone?

An excellent and penetrating review of self-censorship by Yale University Press and the once-respected Index on Censorship by Ophelia Benson. Several good comments to check out, too.

The reality is that a few people can always punish someone for an imagined offense; there is no way to rule that out in advance without giving up doing anything. We can’t afford to do that. We can’t afford to get so frantic with fear of remote, potential, unlikely possibilities of danger that we stop doing things we have good reasons to do.

The more of us who stand up against censorship, the less power we grant to those who would shut us up.

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