Friday, May 29, 2009

Comic book collector convicted for owning comic

A prolific American collector of Japanese manga comics has reportedly been convicted under the 2003 Protect act of pedophilia for ordering comics which were intercepted by customs.

According to wired's threat level blog, the collector, Christopher Handley, was prosecuted for mailing obscene matter, and possession of obscene visual representations of the sexual abuse of children. Three other counts (not listed) were dropped in the plea deal.  
Christopher Handley, described by his lawyer as a “prolific collector” of manga, pleaded guilty last week to mailing obscene matter, and to “possession of obscene visual representations of the sexual abuse of children.” Three other counts were dropped in a plea deal with prosecutors.

Comics fans are alarmed by the case, (.pdf), saying that jailing someone over manga does nothing to protect children from sexual abuse.

“This art that this man possessed as part of a larger collection of manga … is now the basis for [a sentence] designed to protect children from abuse,” says Charles Brownstein, executive director of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. “The drawings are not obscene and are not tantamount to pornography. They are lines on paper.”

Sentencing may extend to 15 years in prison.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Oppose Spiritual Heritage Week

Today, Rep. Randy Forbes of Virginia, the Founder and Chairman of the Congressional Prayer Caucus, and twenty-four other members of the House of Representatives, co-sponsored a resolution in Congress that would “affirm the rich spiritual and religious history of our Nation's founding and subsequent history and express support for designation of the first week in May as America's Spiritual Heritage Week for the appreciation of and education on America's history of religious faith.”

The resolution, H.RES. 397, would put Congress on record as “recognize[ing] the religious foundations of faith on which America was built are critical underpinnings of our Nation's most valuable institutions and form the inseparable foundation for America's representative processes, legal systems, and societal structures.”

In addition, the resolution “rejects, in the strongest possible terms, any effort to remove, obscure, or purposely omit such history from our Nation's public buildings and educational resources” and justifies the need to keep “under God” in the pledge. 

Last year, when a similar measure was introduced, 93 members of the House of Representatives co-sponsored this legislation.

Our elected officials need to know that these "Christian nation" resolutions distort America's history and exclude the history of atheists, humanists, freethinkers and other nontheists who have made significant contributions to our nation. 

Their denial of the secular nature of our government means that these members of Congress are not only disagreeing with Americans who know that we are not a Christian nation (and never have been), but they are also disputing our President who recently promoted America’s secular heritage abroad during a trip to Turkey. 

In this new era of promoting science and evidence, no representative should feel compelled to support the agenda of the Congressional Prayer Caucus and their attempts to infuse personal religious values into public policy.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

2010: Year of the Bible?

A Republican House member wants President Barack Obama to make 2010 the Year of the Bible.

There's no sign that Obama will get the chance in the foreseeable future. Georgia Rep. Paul Broun's resolution would have no force of law if passed. And it can't be passed unless majority Democrats, who referred it to a committee, bring it to the floor for a vote.

The resolution reads in part:"The president is encouraged ... to issue a proclamation calling upon citizens of all faiths to rediscover and apply the priceless, timeless message of the Holy Scripture which has profoundly influenced and shaped the United States and its greatDemocratic form of government, as well as its rich spiritual heritage, and which has unified, healed and strengthened its people for over 200 years."

Told of the measure, several Democrats and liberal and atheist bloggers objected. Some said it would violate the separation of church and state by advocating one book of faith over others.

Broun said the nation's values are based on those espoused in the Bible."The national year of the Bible resolution reminds us that our great nation was founded upon biblical principles and that religious freedom is guaranteed by the Bill of Rights," he said in a statement. The resolution has 14 co-sponsors.

There is precedent. By signing proclamation 5018, President Ronald Reagan designated 1983 the year of the Bible, "in recognition of the contributions and influence of the Bible on our Republic and our people."

"I encourage all citizens, each in his or her own way, to re-examine and rediscover its priceless and timeless message," the proclamation reads.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Creationism as superstitious nonsense violates First Amendment?

A federal judge has ruled that a history teacher at a Southern California public high school violated the First Amendment when he called creationism "superstitious nonsense" during a classroom lecture.

U.S. District Judge James Selna issued the ruling Friday after a 16-month legal battle between student Chad Farnan and his former teacher, James Corbett.

Farnan's lawsuit alleged that Corbett made more than 20 statements that were disparaging to Christians and their beliefs.

The judge found that Corbett's reference to creationism as "religious, superstitious nonsense" violated the First Amendment's establishment clause. Courts have interpreted the clause as prohibiting government employees from displaying religious hostility.


Was the Judge right?  Should a teacher be prohibited from saying creationism is "religious superstitious nonsense"?

Sunday, May 3, 2009

New Humanism Channel on Current

"Man is the measure of all things"  Protagoras
"Faith means not wanting to know what is true"  Nietzsche  

What is Humanism?

Humanism is an optimistic stance that entails self determination and the dignity and worth of all people. More than a negation of the supernatural, Humanism is a process by which truth and morality is sought through human investigation. 

Tools of the investigation are reason, science, and the scientific method. Humanism rejects tradition, revelation, and/or mysticism (the supernatural) as appropriate or legitimate tools for determining what is true and moral. Our quest is for the good; our questions revolve around the nature of the good life. 

The ultimate goal is human flourishing: making life better for all humans; promoting concern for the welfare of other sentient beings and the planet as a whole. The focus is on doing good and living well in the here and now, and leaving the world a better place for those who come after.

Humanism on Current

As a channel we will investigate the human condition where politics and religion intersect. Informed by science, inspired by art, and motivated by compassion, our task is to question the world in pursuit of the good, for one and all.

With an eye towards human and civil rights, church and state, oppression and discrimination, life and death; the Humanism channel will explore all manner of intolerance, bigotry, and injustice. Our task is to explore and expose inhumanity, while promoting the humane, the just, the wise.

Current is a unique and beautiful experiment in virtual community.  As members of the Current community we are social pioneers, participating in a bold new adventure made possible by intellect and reason, science and technology.  As pioneers we have a responsibility to future generations.  We must make this work.  We must practice tolerance and civility.  We must learn to disagree without being disagreeable.  We must strive to be good to one another.

The Humanism channel is a big tent. Feel free to tag "Humanism" to any post that deals with the human condition, with man's inhumanity to man, with the clash between sacred and profane.  Issues both national and international are welcome. Misogyny, homophobia, and persecution of any kind are all humanist concerns.  Any issue where human dignity and human worth comes into question is a Humanist issue.

Ultimately our journey is a philosophical investigation.  Let us proceed in love as we move towards wisdom.



Friday, May 1, 2009

Christians support torture more than non-believers

If you believe in Jesus, chances are you believe in torture. No doubt Jesus would be proud.

Results from a new
Pew Forum poll show that evangelicals and Catholics are more likely than other groups (and more likely than average) to approve of "the use of torture against suspected terrorists." Those most likely to approve of torture some or most of the time are white evangelical Christians. Those least likely are "unaffiliated" and those who rarely or never attend church services. 

Why are Christians more likely to support torture than non-believers?

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