Monday, February 04, 2008

I'm not myself until I've hung my ass over my head in the morning.
Selling Pets Is Forbidden. So Blowing Up Women with Downs Syndrome In A Crowded Pet Market Is OK.

Baghdad’s fragile peace was shattered yesterday when explosives strapped to two women with Down’s syndrome were detonated by remote control in crowded pet markets, killing at least 91 people in the worst attacks that the capital had experienced for almost a year.

Sunni fundamentalists consider the selling of pets to be haram — forbidden on religious grounds.

Though the use of women in warfare violates religious taboos, Al-Qaeda has increasingly used women as suicide bombers because they can conceal explosives beneath their black robes and usually escape the rigorous body searches to which men are subjected.

The (London) Times' Martin Fletcher reports
How Do You Get Rid Of A Tenured Professor? Play The Race Card.

Brandeis, a private university with about 3,200 students, is named after former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, a passionate defender of free speech rights.

That's the irony of this story.

Politics professor Donald Hindley, who has taught at the Waltham, Massachussetts school for 47 years, had a monitor placed in his classroom and was asked to undergo sensitivity training after he told students in his Latin American politics class last semester that Mexican migrants are sometimes referred to pejoratively as "wetbacks."

Hindley claims the school never told the nature of the complaint against him and was never given the chance to defend himself. Associated Press' Mark Pratt reports via The Boston Globe

"Protection of free speech and rules against discrimination are the bottom line in protecting minorities from the whims of the majority. Yet in the name of being “inclusive” and “welcoming” colleges have given a self selected group of little tyrants the right to decide what does and does not constitute offensive speech. In the end the majority will reassert itself and the very codes that were instituted to prevent minorities from being offended will be turned around and used against them." Reader commentary from Inside Higher Ed's coverage of the Brandeis story

No Athiests In Foxholes... Or MySpace

MySpace deleted the 35,000-member "Atheist and Agnostic Group" on Jan. 1, a little more than a month after hackers broke in and renamed the group's site "Jesus Is Love."

MySpace has ignored repeated requests to restore the group's site. A MySpace spokeswoman did not return calls seeking comment.

The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer's David Briggs reports
Afghan Student Sentenced To Death for Blasphemy

23-year-old Afghan student Sayed Pervez Kambaksh was arrested in 2007 after downloading material from a Farsi website, which criticized Muslims who use misinterpretations of the Koran to justify their oppression of women.
Kambaksh distributed the information to fellow students and teachers at Balkh University with the aim, he said, of provoking a debate on the matter. He was subsequently arrested, tried by religious judges (reportedly without being allowed legal representation), and sentenced to death.
A statement supporting the death sentence was issued by the leader of the Afghan Senate, Sibghatullah Mojaddedi, an ally of President Hamid Karzai.
Comment from Daniel Dennett: "The 'tolerance' urged by many voices outside the Muslim world played into the hands of the radical Islamists."
Beware The Straw Man!

"Statements made in the media can surreptitiously plant distortions in the minds of millions. Learning to recognize two commonly used fallacies can help you separate fact from fiction."

Yvonne Raley and Robert Talisse discuss in Scientific American: "Getting Duped: How The Media Messes With Your Mind"

Talisse elaborates further with Scott F. Aiken in their paper
"Two Forms of The Straw Man"

Friday, February 01, 2008

Walter Lantz's "Scrub Me Mama With A Boogie Beat"
Walter Lantz was an animator whose chief claim to fame was his Woody Woodpecker cartoons. Less known is the fact that Lantz created a film that is so blatantly racist, so unashamedly degrading to African Americans that... Well... It's actually funny.
"Funny" in the sense that, when confronted with such unrelieved, jaw-dropping ignorance, you can't even waste your energy getting indignant. You just have to laugh at the prima facie absurdity of the thing.

We first came across "Scrub Me Mama" about 20 years ago when it resurfaced, after decades of utter obscurity, on Rhino Home Video's "Weird Cartoons, Volume 2." Watching it, you may be inclined to think that we're much more enlightened these days. And in some sense, you'd be right. Much more disturbing than anything this film can serve up is the era that allowed it to be made -- an era that's long gone.
But while today's mainstream has no tolerance for such depictions of African Americans, other populations still seem to be fair game. Asians, Italians, not to mention the overweight and the mentally ill, are just a few groups that are still regularly subject to harmful stereotyping in our popular entertainment.

That said, Don Raye's title song is a damned catchy one. So if you find the video to be too much for your delicate sensibilities, just minimize the screen and listen to some crazy boogie woogie... Rub-lee-ub-dub!

video