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318 weeks ago @ http://www.belfasttele... - Women and sexual abuse... · 0 replies · +1 points

Hmm, "cannot be oversimplified", but Mary certainly managed it. Depicting this as a simple generational difference is not only trite, it's wildly inaccurate. As a 54-yr-old male, I was a teenager in the 1970s and like many young people of the time, took a dim view of the supposedly "playful" aggressive sexism often found in mainstream culture of the time. The Benny Hills, Carry Ons and more graphic "sex comedies" were not aimed at the youth market, but mostly at middle-aged people who had little time for this "women's lib" stuff and couldn't see any harm in a bit of bum-pinching and tit-grabbing. Being a habitual sex pest was just being "cheeky" and the young women (and men) who objected were dismissed as man-hating radicals and communists.

It was with the coming of age of the 1960s-70s youngsters that a lower tolerance for sexual aggression became a hallmark of mainstream social etiquette, which has been passed on to the following generations. One result is that socially regressive conservatives now feel obliged to try to defend some of the worst aspects of the sexist past, including, it seems, outright sexual abuse.

513 weeks ago @ The Freethinker - Muslim footballers den... · 1 reply · +1 points

Easier said than done, barriejohn. It's not like ending your subscription to Reader's Digest. If all your family and friends are traditional muslims, and the sharia punishment for leaving your religion is death, there's going to need to be a few more generations of muslim moderates before leaving Islam becomes as easy as leaving Christianity.

513 weeks ago @ The Freethinker - Muslim footballers den... · 3 replies · +1 points

Whether there's been dishonesty or power games involved in the reversal of this decision, at least it's a sign of progress that the decision was indeed reversed. I agree with Stuart that we ought to encourage the moderates and not just assume they're all hardline homophobes. Islam is a bigoted religion but there are muslims trying to distance themselves and their personal beliefs from the worst aspects of the creed.

514 weeks ago @ The Freethinker - Writers of the Bible g... · 2 replies · +1 points

If God separated the earth from the sky, where's the gap? Can't see one, myself.

516 weeks ago @ The Freethinker - Atheist, Gnostic, Thei... · 0 replies · +1 points

In contrast to the terms on offer here, I would probably describe myself as an "atheist realist", meaning that I reject belief in God as anything other than a product of the human imagination. When one accepts all gods and spirits as human cultural constructs, one has a basis for forming realistic models of the nature of religion and the roles it plays in the imaginitive human-centred cosmologies that different cultures have constructed for themselves. As for the cosmological "truth claims" of these religions, I would favour the logical positivist view that such claims are too devoid of real information to be empirically meaningful.

522 weeks ago @ The Freethinker - Webcam wanker was a Ca... · 0 replies · +1 points

"He was attempting. He failed because he wasn't talking to an underage girl, but he was definitely attempting. "

No, there was NO underage girl. We atheists are supposed to be able to clearly disinguish between fantasy and reality. You can't "attempt to groom an underage girl" if it's really a policeman - you can only "attempt to groom a policeman posing as an underage girl". This is not an academic distinction. If his crime is being presented as an "attempt to groom an underage girl", then it's a fictitious crime. We shouldn't be charging people with fictitious crimes.

This doesn't mean he shouldn't be charged, but the charge should refer to what really happened and why he's really considered worth arresting. He's coming before the courts because the police regard him as potentially dangerous, and this is something the court needs to assess, without basing this assessment on the mistaken idea that the police are providing evidence that he has actually engaged in child abuse.

522 weeks ago @ The Freethinker - Webcam wanker was a Ca... · 0 replies · +1 points

It's a more complex issue than that, remigius. Having police online, pretending to be children, actively portraying themselves as sexually available and "begging for sex" from strange old men, can only reinforce the idea amongst these deluded types that there are indeed plenty of kids out there "begging for it". It could also encourage such behaviour amongst impressionable youngsters.

And since this man is being charged with a thought crime, not an actual crime against a child, we really should be honest about that. While I believe it's preferable for people to be charged with real crimes, rather than pretend crimes made up by the police, there may well be a strong argument for "thought crime" convictions in the name of public safety. But let's not pretend he was actually "grooming an underage girl" - this misrepresents both the nature of the offence and the police tactics involved, in a needlessly evasive way.

522 weeks ago @ The Freethinker - Webcam wanker was a Ca... · 3 replies · +1 points

I'm uneasy about these kind of entrapment tactics. Apart from anything else, the charges make no sense. How can he be charged with "attempting to groom an underage girl" if there was no underage girl?

"Attempting to groom an imaginary underage girl" is more empirically accurate, and since he posted sexually suggestive material concerning this imaginary girl, he presumably ought to be charged with creating and distributing child porn. But since the police joined in, and indeed, instigated the whole thing, they ought to be charged, too.

522 weeks ago @ The Freethinker - Using sign language, a... · 0 replies · +1 points

"He’s let down the Catholic community." "I am very disappointed"

Hmm. Before he left, he should have given them a final sign, universally understood, involving the middle finger of each hand.

524 weeks ago @ The Freethinker - Muslims are at the hea... · 1 reply · +1 points

I agree with Ian Edmond and David McKeegan. Unless the dog fighters themselves regard this activity as sanctioned or encouraged by their religion, or having some sort of religious significance, then for critics to associate it with Islam is pretty meaningless, and offensive to muslims who disapprove of cruelty to animals.