What Free Speech Does Not Mean

One of the most common arguments you’ll see from the ignorant on any number of a variety of topics is the ‘It’s free speech’ argument. Lately I’ve seen this with the Daniel Tosh Rape joke scenario, the We-Need-Moar-Guns-To-Stop-People-From-Shooting-Theatres debate, the Chik-Fil-A We-don’t-hate-gays-but-donate-to-anti-gay-groups debacle. And numerous other ridiculous situations that I have a hard time imagining anyone would want to defend.

Usually, the ‘It’s Free Speech’ argument is said completely without irony and without an understanding of what it actually means. It’s like people think it’s a ‘get out of argument free card’.

What free speech means:

That you are free to voice your opinion without government interference.

That’s it. Full stop. That’s all it means. Here’s what it does not mean:

That you are free to say something remarkably stupid without receiving criticism.

As I’ve said on a previous post : ‘No one is above critique. See that’s the flip side of the ‘Free Speech’ argument that so many seem to draw like a gun. Yes, you can say stupid things…and then I can verbally tear you a new asshole for it.’ If you try to tell me I’m not allowed to criticize something you’ve said…you’ve just committed the ultimate hypocrisy in asserting that your Free Speech somehow outweighs mine.

That I have to listen to what you have to say.

MRAs (Male Rights Activists) may rant and rave and froth and foam to their heart’s content. And they do quite frequently. I’m not interested and I’m not listening. My brain can only handle so much unreasoning hate and pure stupid. In no way have I taken away their rights by focusing my attention away from their fecal flinging. I won’t pull you off your soapbox…but I have the right to walk by without stopping.

That I have to provide you an opportunity to voice your opinion.

I believe this is part of the FreeThoughtBlogs vs Thunderf00t comedy. He was given a blog space by them…they realized he was only there to shit disturb…they promptly removed him. No Free Speech was taken. As a presenter or organizer, I don’t have to allow you the stage. As a webmaster I don’t have to give you a blog. As a blogger, I don’t have to let you write a guest post and I certainly don’t have to allow your opinions in the comment section of my personal blog. I’m not the government and I’m not censoring you. I’m just not giving up my space for your opinions. Get your own damned blog. I hear there’s this place called WordPress that gives them away for free!

That I must continue to support the person who is exercising their free speech.

For example, if I choose to boycott a business because they are vocal in their bigotry, this is not infringing on their free speech. They chose to voice their opinion. I chose not to support it. If, as another business, I choose to sever our relationship, this too is not taking away the rights of the first business. They chose to voice an opinion that may not be well received by the masses. There are consequences in that.

That the listeners must agree with the speaker.

Have your say. Try to swing me to your perspective. Don’t throw a temper tantrum and accuse people of stealing your free speech when they don’t instantly bow down to your demands or agree with you. Be an adult, for chrissakes. Or by all means, flop down in the mud and throw your temper tantrum. It gives us fledgling bloggers something interesting to blog about. And by ‘blog about’ I do mean ‘mock relentlessly’.

Random Thoughts On Being a Crazy Cat Lady and Feminist

Yesterday I was telling a story to a coworker about the horses I had as a teenager. One of my horses had gotten into the rabbit feed and was lying down outside the barn doors groaning in pain. She had colic and needed to get up and moving. For horses this can be a life threatening situation. She was also a bossy and stubborn creature so there was a bit of a struggle in getting her to comply. In relating the story I said of the horse: ‘Get up you fat cow! Get up and walk it off!

My cat was trying to wrestle his way in to steal my ice cream from me The day before. While he got in a couple of good swings I feel I won the fight overall. When physical force didn’t work he had to resort to being cute and cuddly. He snuggled up against me and kneaded and purred, all the while eyeballing my bowl of ice cream. I told my cat that he was a ‘slutty little whore bag‘ and that I wasn’t ‘giving in to his terrorist demands.

Today my dog was wagging her tail and walking by and I told her that : ‘If you’re gonna keep wiggling your bum and smiling at me I’m gonna have to molest you a little. You’re clearly asking for it.‘ Because Corporal Cuddling is how we roll in this family. And then I pounced. There was belly rubbing involved. Some scritching. Also some growling. Hers or mine, I’m not sure.

So there’s some body snark and slut shaming topped off with some victim blaming. Now keep in mind that I identify as a feminist. These are things I would never say to a person. Not even a person I disliked immensely. Not even in a fight. Even thinking them, which still occasionally happens in moments I’m not proud of, makes me feel self loathing. So why am I using this sort of language with my critters?

For more information on Corporal Cuddling (and because it’s funny as hell) you should watch this video:

The Olympics Is No Place For Equality

The comment section at the Globe & Mail really is a cesspool of woman hating trolls today.

There’s an article in the commentary section of the Globe & Mail today in regards to the difference in the way male and female athletes are being treated. It’s called : ‘For female Olympians, it’s 1960 all over again

Case in point, the entire Q&A period for the British Beach Volleyball teams focused on whether the women were going to promise to wear bikinis in the rain. While the men’s team wasn’t asked any questions. Women’s sports aren’t about athleticism, afterall, it’s all about titillation. Training regimes and strategy? Not important. The important thing is whether or not we’re gonna see cleavage and the possibility of wardrobe malfunctions.

There’s also the example of male athletes getting first class tickets on airline flights while the female athletes have to ride in coach. How do you even defend that one?

The story of several media sources body snarking about a multi-medal Olympic Swimmer. Seriously, who calls an Olympic athlete fat?!? Well apparently, this is a thing now. Fucking fat lazy uber-athletes. How dare they pack on muscle and not be a size 0? /snark

Those are just a few examples from the article.
The commentariat of the plebes was about what you’d expect:

– Who’d even watch women’s sports if there were no bouncing boobies?

– There’s no such thing as sexism now STFU and get back in the kitchen.

– Bitches don’t know anything about sports.

– You’re just lucky men LET you compete at all.

You know, ‘well reasoned’ commentary from people who totally aren’t misogynist scumbags. And by ‘well-reasoned’, of course I mean: The stupid! It burns!

Where Atheism and Feminism Meet – Part I

This blog is called Canadian Heathen. This is because I identify as an atheist. Also because maple leafs and socialized healthcare are awesome! The majority of my blog posts have not, however, been primarily concerned with atheism. Or…Mounties. At first glance this may be confusing (or annoying) to some.

For me, my atheism and feminism stem from the same place: rationality and skepticism. Belief in gods is irrational. Sexism is irrational. Often the first leads to the second. There’s a strong correlation between religious belief and lack of women’s rights. Both of these things affect me. As a woman, the sexism is often the more noticeable for me. Also the more likely to piss me off. Because it’s all up in my face and it’s not something I can ever escape from. Once you see…you cannot unsee.

It’s also sometimes more baffling for me. Sexism doesn’t just come from the religious folks. I wish that were the case. It’s really easy to dismiss a stupid statement coming from someone who truly believes a snake tricked a woman into eating an apple. Unfortunately, there’s a nice heaping helping of unreasoned sexism that’s coming from fellow atheists and skeptics and this is something that I just don’t understand. How can you let go of one set of irrational beliefs while clutching desperately to another? More importantly, why would you want to?

I’ve been an internet forum warrior. Hell, I’ve even been a troll. I’ve clashed with religious fundementalists over the basic tenets of their beliefs with varying degrees of success. I remember years ago being on a forum arguing against religious fundementalism with a muslim dude. The muslim dude was ill prepared, as he was throwing some of the most common theistic arguments at us. The sort of thing that’s been debunked again and again. Pascal’s Wager and the like. Suffice it to say that he was floundering. Then one of my ‘allies’ piped in with : ‘you’re getting beaten by a girl, you know. What does that say about you manly muslims?’ I was completely derailed and flustered.

Really, random-internet-dude-who’s-suppose-to-be-my-ally-here? You went there? To score points in a flame war you tossed aside all reason and taunted his manhood by insulting half the population and in particular one of your allies. How exactly was I supposed to respond to that? Laughing along with him would be tacit agreement that I’m a second class citizen. I remember that what happened was that I turned my ire on the atheist and asked him what the hell his problem was. His response was something like : ‘But look how mad it made muslim guy’. Mine was : ‘And look how mad it made me. Do you really want to ‘win’ this fight by alienating half of your potential allies? Don’t knock me down in order to get a shot in at some random internet idiot.’ I got a sullen :’sorry…’ and he withdrew from the conversation.

This last anecdote is a mild one. There’s far worse things going on within and without the atheist community at the moment.

There’s the infamous Elevatorgate scandal, which all things aside (and whatever you happen to think about being propsitioned in an elevator at 4am in a strange country), taught us that if a woman speaks up about something that bothers her, she will get threatened and harassed mercilessly…for years! Or a condescending ‘Dear Muslimah‘ letter from one of the most respected members of the atheist community.

There’s are numerous situations where a rape survivor has mentioned that joking at the expense of the victims is not funny…who then promptly receive rape threats, because apparently that’s the go-to silencing tactic when calling a woman a Bitch doesn’t work.

The backlash that Surly Amy is getting because she’s a woman…because she’s a skeptic. Because she has opinions. Read that link, it’s a pretty horrifying example of the sort of shit that women who are atheists have to put up with…from their supposed allies! Among other things another atheist laments that Amy won’t be setting herself on fire anytime soon.

There’s a highschool girl sharing her gotta-make-you-smile story of how her very religious mother gave her a Carl Sagan book for Christmas…and then the rape threats that followed. And seriously, this girl is not even an adult yet.

So, above and beyond the fact that as an atheist I must fight against the religious right trying to lobby to take away my rights as a person, and as a woman, I’ve got this secondary fight going on. One where I need to give my apparent allies the side-eye from time to time and wonder if they really have my back or not or whether they’re waiting to throw me under the bus to score points in a frikken flame war. This is why so many of my posts have focused and will focus on feminism. To me, it’s all part of the same picture. In this case, the more uncomfortable part of the ‘good fight’.

And you still deny religion rots the brain?

Recently there has been a string of sexual assaults at York University in Toronto. One Muslim cleric’s response is, of course, to take away the rights of women and force harsh penalties on those who ‘dress provocatively’. Whatever that means.

The entire letter to The Toronto Sun is so full of stupid that it burns. Al-Haashim Kamena Atangana, the street cleric in question, is not what you’d call…a thinker. But I’m a glutton for punishment, so let’s go through it anyway!

I wanted to mention that the reason why these sex attacks are continuously happening is because the Canadian laws, which gives too much freedom to women, are the cause of these sex attacks.

You hear that? Women having freedom is causing men to rape them. If only we punished women more, rapists wouldn’t have to intercede on behalf of Canadian Law and do it for us. The rapists are doing a public service. Damn you, Canadian Legal System, for not caring about women enough to persecute them relentlessly! Never mind the logical acrobatics one needs to make in order for this line of reasoning to make sense. Not oppressing one group sufficiently is apparently going to lead to that group being attacked.

Also, the grammar nazi in me would like to point out that the attacks are not continuous. That would imply a never ending string of events with no break whatsoever. Like, not even bathroom breaks.

The reason why a woman gets raped is because of the way she dress. Women dress so provocatively so much that they receive too much attention for themselves and that attention at times leads to death.

It’s not because she was attacked by a criminal. No. It’s because she received too much attention that might result in death. The fact that there no evidence to suggest that a woman’s choice of dress figures in to rape statistics and that rape is about power rather than animal lust (as this cleric and others like him seem to suggest) mean nothing.

It’s sickening how little respect these idiots seem to have for men as a whole. In their world view men cannot control themselves sufficiently not to attack or kill just because they saw a little cleavage. That would make them extremely weak minded and pathetic. And even after acknowledging that they believe men are rutting pigs without the ability to reason or control themselves they still somehow believe that men are better equipped to be in positions of power. Baffling. There’s that logic fail again. Anyhoo, let’s take in some more wisdom from cleric dumbshit, er Al-Haashim Kamena Atangana…

If the law enforcements and the Canadian politicians were very serious about solving this problem, they would introduce laws that would make it illegal for women to dress provocatively in the streets.

Define Provocative. Are we talking boobies(Being topless in public is legal in Ontario)? Or two inches of calf? Depending on where you are either or neither of these are provocative. But yes, what this comes down to is again: Canada, if you loved your women, you’d spend more time oppressing them.

However by arresting sexual predators is not going to solve the problem because as long women continue to dress like this there will always be perverts and rapist who will continue to remain on the loose.

No need to punish the criminals. Boys will be boys, afterall. Men can’t be expected to control themselves when confronted with the sight of a woman’s calf. And that’s her fault. The important thing is that we blame the victims and use violence against them as an excuse to heap more ridiculous rules and restrictions on them.

Why is it that Rapists and sexual predators only target women that dress so provocatively?

Citation please. You’re not going to get stats on that, of course, since Shariah Law doesn’t acknowledge that rape happens. It’s simply called adultery and she gets stoned to death for it. Unless she has four male witnesses to the crime…and then she just gets killed by her family. You know, so they don’t lose honour. Or it’s called marriage. Even when a woman is kidnapped and married by a mullah against her will and then raped…well, that’s not considered rape either.

And as a bonus, here’s a list of rape myths from the University of Minnesota.

As an aside, is a street cleric the same thing as those religious doomsayers who hold up signs that the ‘End is Near’ when they’ve gone off their medications for too long? That might explain some of his ‘advice’.

Burning Her Face Off

We are more abused, harassed, exploited, kidnapped, raped, trafficked, murdered by our lovers, husbands, fathers, brothers, uncles, cousins, friends, or men we know well than by strangers. Whatever happens to us, we never stop loving men.

Taslima Nasreen

It’s not very often that a blog post takes my breath away.

This one did that. Our men throw acid in our faces, destroy our lives but we never stop loving men. Warning: Violent images

It is NSFW and you should be warned it shows some pretty disturbing graphical images. It’s horrifying and it’s revealing and it’s so very sad. And it’s so important people know about this. See these images. So that we can all do what we can to stop this nightmare from happening again.

Tesla and Women’s IQs

“But the female mind has demonstrated a capacity for all the mental acquirements and achievements of men, and as generations ensue that capacity will be expanded; the average woman will be as well educated as the average man, and then better educated, for the dormant faculties of her brain will be stimulated to an activity that will be all the more intense and powerful because of centuries of repose. Woman will ignore precedent and startle civilization with their progress.”

Nikola Tesla

Over at Jezebel there’s an interesting article with the straightforward title: Women Are All of a Sudden Scoring Higher than Men on IQ Tests. It follows on the announcement that…well, you read the title. No need to be redundant. Apparently, for the first time since they began keeping records, women are averaging up to 5 points higher than men on Intelligence Quotient tests. This follows on another report suggesting that women are now earning more college degrees than men, and that young professional women are now outperforming young men in the job market.

By the many noodly appendages of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, how could such a thing have happened? You may be asking yourself. This flies in the face of everything that male chauvinist and religious folks have been telling us for ages. Lady-brainz are delicate things that aren’t supposed to be taxed with too much thinking. Thinking causes worry lines…and feminism. Best leave it to the menfolk. Clearly it is time to panic. But first, let’s cast about for something to blame.

Two quotes from the article in the Telegraph suggest that:

One theory for the result is that the demands of juggling family life and building a career have made women more intelligent.

This sounds a little like the reasoning of Evolutionary Psychology. I am not a fan of this budding ‘science’ (And I call this science in the same way I call homeopathy science). It’s a little too have-the-answer-I-want-now-lets-look-for-the-question. You know, the opposite of how science actually works. But that is a post for another day. Suffice it to say that there’s no evidence that multitasking makes one smarter, and plenty of evidence to suggest the opposite.

Another theory is those women have always had the potential for higher results, but are only now realising it.

Which sounds an awful lot like my Tesla quote from the beginning of this post. Oh Tesla, is there anything you didn’t know? Keep in mind he said this about a hundred years ago. Please excuse me while I take a moment to sigh dreamily while thinking of my favourite mad scientist:

Tesla2

If only I had white wings and laser eyes… Okay, I’m back.

Tesla’s quote (and I guess the second quote from the article too) is also an excellent answer to that question asked by angry dudebros everywhere: ‘Yeah, well if women are as smart as men how come they never invented anything?’ See, but then you have to bring up that word that frightens the dudebros: Privilege. If women aren’t allowed to go to school and learn things like engineering, you can’t honestly suggest that women not engineering anything noteworthy makes them stupid. Keep in mind I did say that it isn’t an honest argument. Not that dudebros wouldn’t try to use it anyway.

I know there’s a few other arguments out there as well. One is that the IQ test is flawed. We know this. Of course it’s biased towards people educated in a certain way and with a certain social background. *cough* White Caucasian males *cough* That’s the point, right? The playing field has apparently been leveled. And two, Affirmative Action. What this last one sounds like is sour grapes from someone that is so caught up in this zero sum game of boys vs. girls that they need to cast about for excuses. It almost seems like they’re suggesting the only way a woman could perform equally to a man is by cheating. That there is raw and pure sexism. Also: Fighting words.

The important thing to consider is that over the last 100 years IQ averages have been going up all around as the complexity of the world demands more of us. That means the boys and the girls are scoring better. This is a victory. Yay for education! As far as I’m concerned there is no girls-vs-boys to factor in. It’s a wonderful thing that women are showing more of their true potential. This isn’t something that should make anyone cast about for excuses and vent anger. Higher education has helped us all achieve better scores and this has got to be a good thing, right?