19 June 2012

Mid-June Rehash: Dolphin/cephalopod copulation, divine search warrants, and criminalizing atheism!

I'm hopefully getting back in the swing of this blogging thing again.  This time I'm shooting for making mid-month rehashes of stories from around the internet a regular feature.  Let's do this.

Is that an octopus on your genitals, or are you just ha... wait, what?

So, in case any of you haven't seen it yet, this image started going viral yesterday:
Photo credit: Joan Gonzalvo

Best comment I've seen so far: "That's gotta suck."

(via Ed Yong)

Mid-month absurdity: Divine revelation is now probable cause?

Last year, a self-proclaimed psychic told the Sheriff's Office of Liberty County, Texas, that a local couple had 25 to 30 dismembered children buried on their property.  This prompted a raid on their home by deputies and put the couple in the media spotlight internationally (largely because the Sheriff's Office tipped off the media before executing the search warrant).

As it turns out, the couple weren't really serial killers and didn't even have one dismembered child buried in their yard, let alone 25 to 30 of them.  Now they're (rightfully) suing the Liberty County Sheriff's Office for defaming them and ransacking their home on the word of a charlatan.

The charlatan in question had this to say for herself:
“They up front asked me how I got the information, and I am a reverend. I am a prophet and I get my information from Jesus and the angels, and I told them that I had 32 angels with me and they were giving me the information and then it went from there,” she said.

Jesus and 32 angels told her about it? Must be legit.

(via Ken at Popehat)

Atheism gets you 2 1/2 years in prison in Indonesia

I hope by now that all of you who love freedom have heard of what's happening to Alexander Aan of Indonesia.  If not, go read up on it.

He's going to prison and will spend the next 2 and a half years locked up with dangerous criminals for asserting God's non-existence on an atheist group page on Facebook.  He also has to pay a fine of roughly $10,600 US.

Islamic extremists, however, seem to think that the sentence is too lenient; some of them feel that he's committed a capital crime.
“These atheists should be beheaded, that’s what they deserve,” wrote a man who identified himself as Putra Tama, a Muslim from neighboring Jambi province.
The Islamic Society Forum (FUI), an umbrella group for several hard-line groups, said that a five-year jail term for Aan would not suffice.

“He deserves the death penalty, even if he decides to repent. What he has done cannot be tolerated,” said Muhammad al-Khaththath, FUI’s secretary-general.

“It is important to prevent this group from spreading atheism in this country,” he added.

That doesn't bode well for him; how many Islamic extremists are going to be sharing a cell block with him?  It's morbid, but I wouldn't be surprised some righteous zealot sticks him with a shiv in the name of God.

At any rate, it isn't even legal to be an atheist in Indonesia.  You can choose from a laundry list of state-approved religions, but "none of the above" isn't an option.

Note to self: don't go to Indonesia.

If you're interested, the Atheist Alliance International is collecting donations for a legal fund to help Aan fight this ridiculous conviction.  If you want to contribute to that specific fund, make sure you tick the appropriate box before donating.

Atheism gets you jail time in the UK, too?

Indonesia doesn't exactly have the world's most permissive religious freedom laws, but surely nothing like that would happen in a bastion of liberty like a Western nation, right?

Yeah.  Wrong.

John Richards, an elderly man living in Boston (a small town on the eastern coast of England), has a sign hanging in his window proclaiming religion as fairy tales for adults.

Recently, the local police informed him that he could be arrested for it if it offends anybody and he refuses to take it down.

Unlike in Indonesia, I highly doubt an arrest in this case would result in any kind of conviction.  I hope.

(also via Friendly Atheist)

Recommended Reading: The Merely Real

I may have linked to her old blog as recommended reading last year, but Chana Messinger has a new blog that she updates frequently, writing about all sorts of interesting topics like feminism, skepticism, and occasionally food.  Go check it out.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License