Thursday, 19 September 2013

Complete Equality

As many of you know, I class myself as an Egalitarian. My ideal in life is that every single person in the world deserves the same rights, opportunities and respect as each other, which of course goes hand in hand with everyone having the same personal and social responsibilities such as being subject to the law, etc.

In my interactions around the web it's coming to my attention that many people seem to have a fundamentally flawed concept of what equality actually is and what complete equality actually entails.

It's very easy to fight for the equal rights of people you agree with, even if you don't share their reasons. For example, more and more straight people, myself included, are proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with the LGBT community to see the end of injustice on the grounds of sexual orientation and identity.

It's much harder to fight for the rights of those you don't agree with, the bigots, the criminals, the oppressors. To stand up and say "though I don't agree with their beliefs or actions, it doesn't stop them from being a human being with the exact same rights and responsibilities as everyone else." But this is exactly what complete equality entails. It's not just a social club where we get to pick and choose who we let in and who we don't, because if it's not for everyone then it's just not equal!

So if your method of fighting for a cause leads you to denigrate those whose opinions differ from your own then you've lost your moral high ground.

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Too Much Fuckwittery

There's only so much fuckwittery I can stand, and sacerdotus has pretty much filled my daily quota. While I feel a strange sense of accomplishment for getting myself added to the list of accounts he's trying to get suspended from twitter, I'm getting rather annoyed that so many decent, rational people are getting spam-blocked everyday that my followers counter keeps going up and down like a Catholic priest's cock in a choir lesson!  

Here's the email I've just fired off to twitter:


Re: Breach of ToS

I'm writing to complain about @sacerdotus and his sock-puppet account @yearoffaith2012.

These accounts have been repeatedly abusing the report spam facility to get anyone he disagrees with, especially atheists, suspended from twitter and actively encouraging his followers to do the same. 

This has been pointed out to the @Twitter and @support accounts numerous times and by numerous people, often with links or pics of evidence and yet nothing has, as yet, been done. 

If this breach of the terms of service was being carried out against any other minority group I have no doubt that you would be quick to respond and yet it seems as though your company is willing to turn a blind eye to discrimination against unbelievers. 

I would appreciate it if you could clarify your position on this matter and await your response.

Friday, 26 July 2013

5 Simple Steps To Avoid Atheists Spamming Your Mentions On Twitter

Here are my 5 simple steps to avoid having your twitter mentions spammed by numerous atheists:

1) Don't Tell Us We're Going To Hell.

Seriously, we don't believe in hell so it doesn't frighten us. All it does is make you sound like an intolerant sadist who gets off on the torture and suffering of anyone who disagrees with your beliefs. Imagine if someone said they think that everyone who believes in any god(s) deserves to spend eternity in perpetual pain and fear, that'd probably piss you off too, right?

2) Understand That The Existence of Monkeys DOES NOT Disprove Evolution.

Just stop and think for a second, what is more likely? That hundreds of thousands of scientists, who have trained for years to evaluate information without bias and have access to all the evidence, research and critically robust and peer reviewed studies have somehow failed to notice the existence of monkeys OR that you don't understand how evolution works?
 (On a related note, the word "theory" has different uses depending on whether it's being used in a scientific or general sense. In scientific terms "theory" doesn't mean "guess", as it does in general terms, instead it actually means "collection of understood facts supported by masses of evidence", learn this distinction to avoid (a) looking stupid and (b) atheistic mention spam!)

3) Don't Try To Claim That Atheists Are Immoral.

Firstly, PLEASE READ YOUR HOLY TEXTS OF CHOICE! Those books are filled with condoned "immorality". Incest, torture, rape, murder, child abuse, slavery...I could go on and on! Seriously, if you live by the standards set by any holy text then your moral compass is about as reliable as as those crappy little plastic ones you get in cereal boxes and Christmas crackers, it may look like it should work, but relying on it is guaranteed to leave you wandering in the ethical wilderness!

Secondly, statistics, worldwide, have shown that, of all religious demographics, those without a belief in any gods are less likely to divorce and are notibly underrepresented within the prison population.  

Basically, if you allow any book that actively encourages you to discriminate against huge swathes of the population to guide your behaviour and how you treat others, you have no moral high ground to stand on and are likely to piss off a lot of people!
 (On a related note, don't call us "satanists"! We don't believe in home either, see step 1 for how this makes you look!)
4) Don't Try To Force Your Beliefs Us.

We don't give a damn what you choose to believe. It is your right to believe anything you wish. However, that right doesn't include changing legislation, that affects everyone, to reflect or give undue support to your beliefs. 
Neither does that right include trying to convert people to your belief, they have the right to believe whatever they want too!
Nor does that right include having your beliefs treated as facts in any secular establishment. This includes schools, universities, hospitals... in fact, anywhere that isn't a church, temple, synagog, etc!

5) Just Don't Be A Dick!

This is probably the most important one. If you're going to say something that sweepingly prejudiced, grossly offensive, startlingly ignorant or just downright stupid, and don't want to be barraged with masses of criticism, well reasoned rebbuttals and abuse then either set your tweets to private, or consider  removing yourself from public forums. Otherwise you deserve everything you get!

Sunday, 14 July 2013

A New Dirty Word?

Being (A) a woman, (B) a survivor of rape and sexual abuse and (C) a fairly intelligent person capable of reading a variety of media sources I cannot fail to notice that discrimination, abuse and violence against women is still shockingly prevalent worldwide. It's somewhat of a stain on the human conscience that things such as victim blaming, honour killings, wage inequality and denial of women's basic rights have been allowed to continue into the 21st century. I have, and will continue to campaign for equality and raise awareness for women, worldwide, who struggle and suffer purely for the sake of their gender. It is something I have always felt passionate about.

With that said, I am NOT a feminist. It is a label I refuse to apply to myself due to an increasing negative connotation that is becoming attached to it and what appears to be an expanding minority that are just propagating that negativity.

I found myself embroiled in a twitter "debate" (I use the term loosely as there was little rational discourse coming from some participants) last week and was truly astounded how there are some people out there who will twist absolutely any scenario so that they can cry "misogyny" and act the victim. Anyone who disagrees with them is shouted down with such vitriol that it seems as though even if all chauvinism and inequality disappeared overnight they'd still be angry tomorrow. They are blinkered to the suffering of any group that isn't women and they tarnish the reputations of the many, rational, feminists who continue to support the goals and ideals that the feminist movement first began with.

I fail to see how this is supposed to benefit the cause for equality. I refuse to gain rights by taking those of others, I refuse to play the victim and I refuse to let the sacrifices and advancements made by those who first fought to get out from under the subjugation of a male dominated world to be subverted by those who seem to believe it gives them the right to dictate what other women should think, feel or do!

It's a shame that it has come to this. That a movement that began for all the right reasons and with the very best of intentions has, in the public eye, become a standing joke that evokes mental images of bitter, man-hating women with doc martins and moon cups angrily hollering at any woman who dares to shave her legs that she's a traitor to her sex.

Feminism has become a dirty word, a parody of its origins that instantly removes any hope of being taken seriously as a woman the second it is uttered and prevents us from bringing about any real change.

So, while I will continue to oppose the sexism, discrimination, the violence and abuse that is carried out against hundreds of thousands of women every day, I am NOT a feminist, I will oppose all discrimination and injustice wherever I see it. I am an egalitarian!

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Going Dark

Having read Stephen Fry's frank and heartfelt Blog piece I realised that, while depression in general is pretty widely discussed, the various different types and the multitude of ways it affects people is not really that well understood at all, partly because it's hard to put it in words and partly because we tend to develop our own phrases and terminology to discribe our experiences. The only way to combat this is for those of us whose lives are affected by depression to speak out and let people know how it is, for us.

I have what's classed as a form of Reactive Depression. This means that rather than a chemical imbalance or genetic predisposition my depression is a direct result of things I've experienced, specifically, being sexually abused as a child. In the majority of cases reactive depression is easily treatable with medication and therapy. In some cases, as with mine and many other survivors of abuse, the trauma event(s) leave us suceptable to a multitude of possible triggers that can reignite the depression.

What this means, for me, is that I can go months without feeling down at all, then all of a sudden my mood drops and I become pretty much useless, I call this "going dark". I lose the greater majority of my energy and motivation, I avoid leaving the house, I neglect most of my housework and personal hygiene, partly because I lose the ability to care but mostly through a conscious decision to focus what little motivation and energy I have into ensuring I continue to meet my son's needs. I feel worthless and sick and almost constantly anxious, I have nightmares and delayed sleep phase at night and flashbacks and panic attacks by day. I obsess with reading anything, books or online, to escape from all the horrible thoughts running through my mind, memories and fears that push themselves to the forefront of my mind when I let my guard slip.
 And then, just as suddenly, I'll hit what I call "the bounce point" and everything will gradually improve until I'm no longer depressed again. 
Sometimes it lasts days, sometimes it lasts months, I can't predict it and I can't control it.

This unpredictability makes antidepressants ineffective. By the time they've started to take effect I'm usually out the other side and all they achieve is to numb all my feelings, making it impossible to experience all the joy in my life when I'm not down. The last time I tried them was when my son was a baby, I remember watching him laugh as he played and knowing I should've been able to feel happiness watching him but it was like it was trapped behind a wall of grey. That was the moment I decided never to used them again. Yes, the bad times are hard but not hard enough to make it worth sacrificing the good ones!

I've also had counselling for my experiences. I know it wasn't my fault, I know I'm safe now, I'm no longer angry, or hurt, I've faced and fought every demon it left me with but no amount of counselling is ever going to make the memories go away and all the while they're there they're always going to be a trigger point for my depression. It's just something I have to live with. Much like an amputee must adjust to living without a limb, this is my scar tissue.

Fortunately, I have a wonderful partner, a guy who understands what I go through and is there to take the strain when I stop functioning. He's my rock and I really don't say how much I appreciate him as often as I probably should! 

I apologise if this post is a bit rambling and morbid, I'm once again in the dark, but I will bounce back again, I always do!

Friday, 21 June 2013

Religious absurdities 1

It has long been my opinion that the Abrahamic god, if he were real and as described by holy texts, would be a complete and utter douche. A malevolent, spiteful and sadistic bastard of the greatest magnitude and certainly not deserving of my (or anyone else's) praise and adoration.

For clarity, I will specify that god, by Abrahamic terms, is the omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent creator of everything. Oh, and he loves us all! Lets look at these in slightly more detail;

Omnipotent: All powerful, there is literally nothing that he is incapable of doing.

Omniscient: All knowing, he knows absolutely everything, always has and always will.

Omnipresent: He is everywhere, at all times.

Creator: he, and he alone planned, designed and created absolutely everything in existence.

All loving: Pretty much an obvious one, do I really need to clarify this?

Now, keeping these characteristics in mind, why is there suffering in the world?

Believers will often argue that suffering is caused by the actions of bad men acting under their god given free will. But I find two major issues with this argument.

1) What about the suffering caused, not by men, but by natural occurrences? (I will hopefully cover this in a separate post) 

2)Why would an omniscient god purposely make people knowing they would use their free will to cause suffering?

Usually, they come back with some variant of "It's not god who causes evil, it's Satan" With which I have the following issues:

1) Why would an all knowing god knowingly create Satan? 

2) Why would an all powerful god not do something to stop Satan from causing suffering to his most beloved creations?

Which in turn is usually met with either accusations of persecution, vitriolic hatred, a poor attempt at apologetics or is just ignored completely (often with any further attempts at communication being blocked!)

Whichever way you look at it, there is some pretty obvious conclusions the Abrahamic religions what you to ignore here.

An omniscient god must, by definition, have known every thought and act of every person that ever has lived or will live even before he began to create the universe.

If that is the case then he knows, way before he makes someone, if they're going to be a murderer or rapist or child abuser or *insert evildoer of choice* (regardless of whether they do so through free will or through satanic inspiration). 

An omnipotent god must, by definition, have the power to choose whether or not to make that person.

If that is the case then every murderer, every rapist, every child abuser and every evildoer that has ever lived must have been knowingly and purposefully created by god. By anyone's standards that's one hell of a malevolent act for a god who claims to love us all!

But here's where it gets even more twisted. For each and every sinner there is the chance of redemption through repentence. Not just for those truly evil ones as described above but even for those of us who live noble and honest lives yet seem to get on his wick by not believing in him,falling in love with someone he decides is unacceptable, eating shellfish, shaving, not shaving or any of the myriad of petty little crap that he's willing to condemn his most beloved creations to eternal torture for.

As a side note, this means that god will happily allow an apologetic child abuser to share heaven with all you faithful believers, but will send an honest but unrepentant atheist to hell. Seems a bit backwards to me :/

But the darkest part of all this is that an omniscient, omnipotent god, by definition, would also know who will and who won't repent, and must have the power to decide whether or not to make them repent.
 So basically god is knowingly and purposefully creating sinners, letting some of them cause suffering throughout the earth purely so he can send them to suffer eternal agony for doing the things he created them to do and for his failure to make them be repentant!

And so, here I return to my original point;  the Abrahamic god, if he were real and as described by holy texts, would be a complete and utter douche. A malevolent, spiteful and sadistic bastard of the greatest magnitude and certainly not deserving of my (or anyone else's) praise and adoration!

My Personal Atheism

Unlike a lot of the Atheists I know, I was never a believer so I never had that experience of losing my faith that so many who were raised religious describe. 
 For some it was a gradual erosion of faith as their doubts mounted up and religion failed to provide the necessary answers, while for others it was a dramatic burst of realisation, like waking up to find they'd been living in a comfortable but unrealistic dream.

For me, it was nothing like that. I was raised in a household where religion was just not important. My Mother is probably best described as an agnostic lapsed Christian and my Father is "spiritual" in a new agey, ageing hippy kind of way, and while they were (and still are) happy to openly discuss their beliefs and views with us kids, there was never any pressure to conform and always a willingness to engage in heathy debate. Although we were baptised (though I think that was more because it was the done thing rather than any aspiriation on my parents behalf for us to be religious) and we did attend Church of England primary schools (though, again, I think this was less about religion and more about good quality education.)

So, without the pressure to conform at home, and raised in an environment where having differing views and opinions was respected as being an important part of developing yourself as an individual, I was free to make my own mind up as to whether or not these stories I heard at school had any relevance to my life. 

I think that's why I never viewed any of the modern religions as any more real than the ancient mythologies my Father would tell me about or the fairytales my Mother loved to read. They were just more stories and while, as with all stories, there may be helpful messages interspersed here and there they're also full of some of the darkest capabilities of the human mind and they just end up sounding ludicrous if you try to take them literally.

So I never really felt as if religion was something I needed, though that's not to say I never felt the need to try at various points growing up. Whether it was the feeling that I was missing out on something my friends had (not helped by my being a precocious little brat who'd happily proclaim at age 5, in class learning about the creation story, that I didn't believe in god and it was evolution and revolution that created the world we live in and thereby getting myself thoroughly ostracised by the rest of the kids who were happily lapping up the indoctrination) Or the times in my life where I was desperate for a saviour, any saviour, to protect me from my darkest experiences. I even went through a phase, around the time when I was first diagnosed with depression at 13, where I read every single religious text I could get my hands on (the benefit of being hyperlexic is that it thankfully didn't take too long, because that's a hell of a lot of drivel to dedicate too much time to, trust me!) So it's not as if I didn't try to find any gods, just that there were never any there for me to find and the effort of trying to convince myself always just left me feeling rather silly, rather like being caught dancing to music in my head (which, I'm embarrassed to admit, has been known...)

The trouble is, for me, none of it makes any sense. There's far too many inconsistencies and not enough convincing evidence for any kind of loving creator deity (I may go into some of these  inconsistencies in a later post) and if there's no loving creator deity, then what need for any kind of deity at all? And if there's no deities at all then what purpose is left for religions and all the spiel that comes along with them?

 It's all just rather pointless and redundant, really. Especially when there's far more wondrous and awe inspiring aspects of reality than we can even begin to understand within my lifetime. Personally, I'm far happier investing my time in those!