Worshipping an evil god

In Pakistan a village council ordered the rape of a 16-year-old girl because her brother had allegedly raped a 12-year-old girl. “A jirga [village council] had ordered the rape of a 16-year-old girl as punishment, as her brother had raped a 12-year-old,” police official Allah Baksh told AFP. He said the village council was approached […]

Escape the monolith

The day after the terror attack near Finsbury Park Mosque, the BBC interviewed Massoud Shadjareh, chair of the ironically named Islamic Human Rights Commission. The IHRC is in fact not so much a human rights organization as a public relations firm with one client: a reactionary theocratic version of Islam. In 2015 it distinguished itself […]

What does Dr Manners think?

We live in a chronically boorish and uncivil world, and in the spirit of the great Miss Manners, above, I’m going to set up as an advisor on how to be not quite so unpleasant to each other. You can call me Doctor Manners. (Remember: I’m not a real doctor.) I’ve heard from some correspondents […]

Mandatory suggestions

Last Saturday, April 22, people around the world took part in the March for Science to defend the discipline against political interference. From climate change and pollution to medicine, men and women who support science were motivated on Saturday by the coverage of the recent Women’s March and are mobilising to make their concerns heard. You would […]

Not much wisdom

There’s this idea that even if you’re not a believer and you don’t see Holy Books as divinely dictated, still they’re a good source of wisdom. I’m not convinced of that. There’s a lot of gorgeous language in the King James translation of the Bible, to be sure, and some of the remarks attributed to […]

Doors slamming shut in the US

Trump’s war on free everything is raging right along over here. (I apologize for his manners toward Theresa May. He just doesn’t know how to act. That hand-holding thing was gruesome, and we’re all embarrassed about it.) He attacks the free press nearly every day; he attacks freedom to protest, freedom from forced pregnancy, freedom […]

‘Keep your mouth shut!’

On Wednesday The New York Times talked to Donald Trump’s chief White House strategist, Steve Bannon, above, formerly executive chair of the far-right website Breitbart News. What Bannon had to say is startling. “The media should be embarrassed and humiliated and keep its mouth shut and just listen for a while,” Mr. Bannon said during […]

Playing the part

I heard someone on National Public Radio yesterday remark that we’re all obsessing over politics these days. Hmm … not exactly, I thought. We’re all obsessing over Trump, much as one might obsess over an approaching train if one were nailed to the tracks, but that’s not necessarily politics, at least not as commonly understood. […]

The war on thinking

It’s hard to decide what I hate most about Donald Trump, pictured above with UKIP’s Nigel Farage. The lying? The corruption? The bullying and insults? The ignorance coupled with grandiosity? The emptiness? The stupidity? I don’t know; I can never decide. I hate most whichever item I’m currently contemplating. There’s so much to hate about […]

History’s actors

Let’s take a moment to think about free thought, and what sense of ‘free’ is in play. The obligatory first stop is Wikipedia, which says: Freethought or free thought is a philosophical viewpoint which holds that positions regarding truth should be formed on the basis of logic, reason, and empiricism, rather than authority, tradition, revelation, or other dogma. […]