News From Around The Blogosphere 10.3.08

WHAT’S THE HARM?

Another child has died because his parents put faith ahead of common sense -

Their son, 16-year-old Neil Jeffrey Beagley, died June 17 of complications from a urinary-tract blockage. A deputy state medical examiner said the boy apparently suffered for years from the intensely painful but medically treatable condition. . . Some of those present told police that Neil Beagley, despite his prolonged suffering, chose faith healing over medical care. . .After Beagley died, a medical examiner ruled his death could have been prevented had his family taken him to a doctor. Based upon findings from the grand jury, the Clackamas County Circuit Court issued arrest warrants Wednesday for Jeffrey Dean Beagley and Marci Rae Beagley in connection with their son’s death.

A 16-year-old is dead from a medically treatable condition and his parents are facing charges of “criminally negligent homicide.” And this is not uncommon:

According to a 1998 analysis by The Oregonian, at least 21 of the dozens of children buried since the 1950s in the Followers of Christ church cemetery south of Oregon City could have been saved by medical intervention. None of the deaths from that era resulted in prosecution.

And in Uganda, spiritual healing promoted by several Pentecostal churches has endangered the lives of many HIV-positive Africans told to forego their medications in favor of a miracle from God.

This is the harm caused by superstition and magical thinking. And this is why we fight.

HOMOPHOBIA NEWS:

Would you vote for this guy for political office?

“A young man asked me what I think of homosexual marriages and I said I think homosexuals should be executed,” he said. “My whole reason for running is the Bible and the Bible couldn’t be more clear on that point.”

This is a quote from David Popescu, and he yes, he’s really running for public office in Canada in the year 2008. Oh, and this is what he told high school students. Now the local police are apparently investigating whether or not he committed a hate crime and that bothers me. Yes, the guy is ignorant, delusional asshole but I happen to believe that being an ignorant, delusional asshole is not a crime. Nor is saying stupid things. At least not in the U.S. I’m a bit fuzzy on the laws in Canada. But in the U.S., the establishment clause of the U.S. Constitution protects unpopular and offensive speech. And since this was not stated over the airwaves, had this taken place in the U.S. the FCC wouldn’t be able to fine him for obscenity. So this looks like another example of the self-appointed watchdogs of decency taking political correctness too far and infringing upon free speech. It is good to hear though that the students called for him to be “cut off.”

Candidates and teachers looked on in silence as students called for him to be “cut off.” Despite their outrage, the discussion moved to other topics.

My question is, why didn’t the faculty do anything? Since he began his little hate speech with a prayer in public school, someone should have stepped up right from the get-go and warned him to either skip the proselytizing or get the fuck out of the public school. But even if they hadn’t acted earlier, they should have cut him off and kicked him out long before the students called for such action. Apparently though, the board has now banned Popescu from future events.

The truth about Mercy Ministries of America – It’s said to be a Christian-based rehabilitation home for “young women who are seeking freedom from life-controlling problems.”

Entrusting their recovery to untrained counselors barely out of Bible college, the Mercy girls said that exorcisms and speaking in tongues took the place of treatment, that expulsion was the punishment for peeing without permission, and that DVDs featuring the testimony of former gays were peddled as a cure for lesbianism.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Mercy Ministries believes that bulimia, depression, self-mutilation, and unplanned pregnancies are all just symptomatic of the Devil’s work.

Alcorn admonished girls for wearing their hair short, despite keeping her owns locks in a shoulder-length bob. If girls got too close they were forced to sign a separation contract that prevented them from being alone together. Mercy didn’t advertise itself as a gay-repair ministry, but some girls enrolled to be cured of their “disease.”

Here’s a clip relating to another woman’s story about these kinds of ex-gay ministries:

Psychics predicted Palin wouldn’t do well in VP debate – “Overall, the consensus among the psychics was that the presidential race has at times been too unpredictable for them.” Wow, I’d hate to think what would happen if we didn’t have psychics to give us these important pieces of information.

This year’s Ig Nobel Award winners announced – For those who don’t know the Ig Nobel Awards, they award ten achievements that “first make people laugh, and then make them think.” For instance, here’s one of the winners:

“MEDICINE: Dan Ariely for demonstrating that expensive fake medicine is more effective than cheap fake medicine.”

No letter beginning, “I am more or less aware of your writings and ideology” can turn out very well – Apparently, those Islamic creationist fucktards in Turkey, the Science Research Foundation founded by Adnan Oktar want to have an email debate with PZ Myers to show how wonderfully open to free speech and scientific inquiry they are. PZ’s response is awesome:

NO.

Oktar is a crook, a fraud, a liar, and a man completely ignorant of the most basic concepts of science. There is no more point to my engaging him than already have, so why should I grant him the privilege of treating him as an equal? He hasn’t earned it.

Who’s to blame for the malfunctions with Hubble and the Large Hadron Collider? The planet Mercury of course. Duh! Remember?

Wow, this is the stupidest thing I’ve heard all day.

AND NOW FOR A MOMENT OF SCIENCE:

‘Little Bang’ Triggered Solar System Formation – “For several decades, scientists have thought that the Solar System formed as a result of a shock wave from an exploding star—a supernova—that triggered the collapse of a dense, dusty gas cloud that contracted to form the Sun and the planets. But detailed models of this formation process have only worked under the simplifying assumption that the temperatures during the violent events remained constant.

Now, astrophysicists at the Carnegie Institution’s Department of Terrestrial Magnetism (DTM) have shown for the first time that a supernova could indeed have triggered the Solar System’s formation under the more likely conditions of rapid heating and cooling.”

Plastic Contaminants Linked To Health Risks – “Exposure to Bisphenol A (BPA), phthalates and flame retardants (PBDEs) are strongly associated with adverse health effects on humans and laboratory animals. A special section in the October 2008 issue of Environmental Research — “A Plastic World” — provides critical new research on environmental contaminants and adverse reproductive and behavioral effects.”

Bacterial Cell’s ‘Crisis Command Center’ Seen – “A bacteria cell’s ‘crisis command centre’ has been observed for the first time swinging into action to protect the cell from external stress and danger, according to new research published in Science.”

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2 Responses to News From Around The Blogosphere 10.3.08

  1. Winawer says:

    US views on freedom of speech are actually somewhat of an outlier; many countries, not just Canada, have laws which curtail freedom of speech when hate or genocide are advocated (the go-to resource, Wikipedia, has a round-up: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hate_speech). Of course, the constraints that these laws place on speech are a matter of degree; even in the US, there are some limits to free speech (you can’t yell ‘Fire’ in a crowded theatre, etc.). We just don’t go as far as you guys do in allowing people to say what they want. I’m as big an advocate of personal freedoms as the next person, but in every society there are limits to what a person can do in so far as those actions infringe on the rights of others, and I’m willing to curtail free speech to limit the harm that someone advocating (or trying to incite) the murder of a group can do. From the way you phrased your comments above (“self-appointed watchdogs of decency”), it’s clear that you think less of me and people like me for doing so, but that’s something I’m comfortable living with. And hey, if you don’t like it, you don’t have to move here. :-)

    Having said that, it seems unlikely to me that Popescu would be convicted, since section 319 of the Criminal Code (the applicable statute) makes an explicit exemption for people expressing a religious opinion. Thus, priests can’t be convicted of hate-speech for spewing vile from the pulpit. For your reference, here is the specific language from section 319:

    Wilful promotion of hatred
    (2) Every one who, by communicating statements, other than in private conversation, wilfully promotes hatred against any identifiable group is guilty of

    (a) an indictable offence and is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years; or

    (b) an offence punishable on summary conviction.

    Defences
    (3) No person shall be convicted of an offence under subsection (2)

    (a) if he establishes that the statements communicated were true;

    (b) if, in good faith, he expressed or attempted to establish by argument an opinion on a religious subject;

    (c) if the statements were relevant to any subject of public interest, the discussion of which was for the public benefit, and if on reasonable grounds he believed them to be true; or

    (d) if, in good faith, he intended to point out, for the purpose of removal, matters producing or tending to produce feelings of hatred toward an identifiable group in Canada.

  2. mjr256 says:

    I don’t necessarily think less of you for your opinion; I don’t even know you. But I feel that he should have been cut off and kicked out of the school for being inappropriate. But I don’t think what he said should be a crime. It certainly isn’t in the U.S. and I’m glad that unpopular speech is protected in our country. Of course we do make exceptions like the aforementioned yelling fire in a crowded theater, on matters of national security, and in libel/slander cases, all of which I’m fine with. Obscenity law also exists in the U.S. but this I do not support as, A. how obscenity is defined is very ambiguous and subject to interpretation and because I feel that the state should not be the arbiters of what can and can’t be said. I think one of the greatest things about the U.S. is that we have the freedom to openly criticize our government or any other institution should we choose and that our speech is legally protected.

    But even though I don’t think his speech was criminal, I’m almost equally opposed to the idea that he’d get to skirt the legal ramifications of his actions simply because it the religious simply get a free ride when others who are not religious would have met with actual punishment for saying much the same thing.

    Thanks for including the Canada law in your comment. It’s very interesting to see how the laws differ from ours in the U.S.

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