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Posts tagged ‘Judaism’

So much for the slippery slope

As all rational people could reasonably foresee, the Supreme Court of British Columbia has upheld the sections of the Criminal Code of Canada that outlaw polygamy. The pith and substance of the ruling is that even though laws against polygamy infringe on the religious freedom of Mormon fundamentalists, it is a justified restriction based on a Section 1 tes

A cartoon with four panels. In each panel there is a bald, incensed-looking man standing at the bottom of the slope (always lower left of the panel). In the top left (titled Loving v. Virginia, 1967) there is a biracial couple standing at the top. The man says "Just you watch! Now that Black can marry White, people marrying housepets is just around the corner." Top right:: (titled Roe v. Wade, 1973) A woman stands at the top. The man says "Now that abortion is legal, we're certain to make it legal to commit infanticide! Any year now!" Bottom left: (Titled Goodridge, 2003)  A lesbian couple is standing at the top. The man says "If gays can marry, legal incest and bigamy will come nest! It's inevitable!" Bottom right: Same people as bottom right. The lesbian couple says "Dude, I don't think this slope is nearly as slippery (emphasized) as you think it is." The angy man at the bottom is turning away and says "Oh shut up."

Cartoon by Barry Deutsch

Such a decision is the correct one. If polygamy were to be legalized now, almost certainly the only ones who would take advantage of the legalization would be Mormon or Muslim fundamentalists. Considering that severe negative consequences arise from the existence if these relationships, (such as how Mormon fundamentalists rape women, abuse girls, and expel “surplus boys”) it is perfectly justifiable to keep polygamy illegal.

Considering that many bigots and opponents of marriage equality explicitly argued (the fallacy of the slippery slope) that same–sex marriage would lead to polygamy, this decision proves them wrong. In other words, so much for the slippery slope.

Hopefully, this case will set a precedent regarding the harmful effects of religion on others. Frankly, women’s rights (and others) ought to take precedence over freedom of religion. Amongst the people this ought to apply to are fundamentalist Muslims, Mormon fundamentalists, the Patriarchy/Quiverfull movement, and ultra–Orthodox Jews. First of all, religion is a choice, while gender isn’t. Even if adults voluntarily chose to enter these religions, their children didn’t, and unlike them I don’t think children should suffer just because they had the misfortune of being born to nutcase parents. Furthermore, no one is preventing these people from converting to denominations that are not so blatantly misogynistic. No one is ever forced to be a gynophobic misogynist. Freedom of religion shouldn’t be the “freedom” to oppress women, especially those who aren’t part of it.

Cartoon attribution/legal stuff: Barry Deutsch / CC BY 3.0


Reasons for unbelief

The New Statesman asked several prominent atheists why they don’t believe in God, and then compiled their responses. I really like this one from human rights activist Maryam Namazie:

I don’t remember exactly when I stopped believing in God. Having been raised in a fairly open-minded family in Iran, I had no encounter with Islam that mattered until the Islamic movement took power on the back of a defeated revolution in Iran. I was 12 at the time.

I suppose people can go through an entire lifetime without questioning God and a religion that they were born into (out of no choice of their own), especially if it doesn’t have much of a say in their lives. If you live in France or Britain, there may never be a need to renounce God actively or come out as an atheist.

But when the state sends a “Hezbollah” (the generic term for Islamist) to your school to ensure that you don’t mix with your friends who are boys, stops you from swimming, forces you to be veiled, deems males and females separate and unequal, prescribes different books for you and your girlfriends from those read by boys, denies certain fields of study to you because you are female, and starts killing in­discriminately, then you have no choice but to question, discredit and confront it – all of it. And that is what I did.

Fundies might deny it, but in reality fundamentalist Islam, Christianity, Judaism, et al. are more alike then you think. Patriarchal religion has slowed the progress of women’s rights throughout history, and getting rid of it would be a huge step forward.

On afterlife consequences

Abrahamic religions often hold that there is some sort of reward or punishment in the afterlife. These are, of course, heaven and hell. They hold that if you do or don’t do certain things, you’ll go to hell and burn in sulphurous hellfire for eternity. Similarly, they hold that if you do do or do not do certain things different things, you’ll be in paradise forever.

In a similar vein, other religions believe in karma. They hold that if you do or don’t do certain things, you’ll come back as pond scum or the like. Similarly, if you do do or don’t do certain different things, you’ll stop reincarnating and achieve Nirvana.

Recall how many of those religions emphasize the desirability of in–conversion. They often try to get you to convert by emphasizing what will happen to you if you don’t convert; that is, bad things will happen to you. To you. Notice who the emphasis is on. You. This is therefore immoral.


Because it’s selfish, that’s why. Belief in afterlife punishment or reward causes people to be motivated by a selfish desire to avoid something bad happening to them (such as burning in hellfire forever) and to get something good to happen to them (such as living in heaven). It causes people to directly consider what happens to them. Although it might indirectly influence someone’s interactions with others (for example, you’ll burn in hell if you aren’t nice to other people) it still ultimately motivates based on what happens to the actor. A truly good person would be good purely for the sake of being good; they would need no other motivation. When asked, “What is in it for you?” they would reply “Nothing, but I’m being moral anyway.”

I have thought of a few possible objections to my conclusions. Hence, I’ve taken the liberty of preemptively debunking them. And that is after the jump.


Happy Hanukkah

It began sunset yesterday, but I’m mentioning it today now that the whole world has experienced the necessary sunset.

It has a lot of different transliterations; I’ve seen it also spelled Chanukah. Why the different transliterations? I have the answer.

The “ch” or “h” at the beginning is actually the representation of a consonant foreign to English. That consonant is called a voiceless uvular fricative, and the symbol for it in the International Phonetic Alphabet is the Greek letter Chi: χ. Put simply, that means it is a sound (technically called a phoneme) that obstructs airflow from the lungs (it’s a consonant), without the vocal cords vibrating in any way (voiceless) articulated at the uvula (uvular) producing audible friction (fricative).

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