Hamza Tzortzis and Imran Hussein (Global Dawah Movement/Mission Dawah)

It recently came to my attention that these fellows had a very public temper tantrum, which passed for a response to a vlogger named Peter–who hosts a YouTube channel called EssenceofThought–which started with Tzortzis accusing Peter of slander because Peter dared to call him out on his lies and (continuing) hypocrisy…while himself slandering Peter, in an attempt to demonstrate to the Global Dawah Movement/Mission Dawah‘s audience–and these are his words here–“that you shouldn’t take online atheists seriously,” and proceeds to accuse them of misrepresentation and slander, and not having “the right type of ethic, especially when it involves dialogue and discussion.” Pot calling the kettle black, Hamza.

In the second part of his two-part response to Tzortzis, Peter draws his viewers’ attention to a comment from Mission Dawah which–long story short–stated their demand that Peter contact them prior to posting his video responses to them–essentially, to allow them to control his content. There is a word for this: censorship. Peter pointed out, in his response to Tzortzis, that the Internet is not a criticism-free, nor is it a shariah, zone, and that he won’t stop critiquing the Global Dawah Movement/Mission Dawah–by the way, formerly known as the London Dawah Movement. (Quick tip, guys: No matter how many times you polish a turd, it’s still a turd.)

In Peter’s response to Tzortzis’ partner in crime, Imran Hussein (in which he includes Hussein’s footage), Hussein merely whines that Peter called Tzortzis a liar, and about comments and posts on Peter’s personal–yes, personal–Facebook page, and repeats Tzortzis’ whine(s) about discussion and dialogue–something Hussein, like Tzortzis, apparently knows nothing, and cares even less, about.

The truth is, the Global Dawah Movement/Mission Dawah, much like Eric Hovind and Sye Ten Bruggencate at the dedication of the American Atheists’ atheist monument, want to talk, but not listen. Even Peter stated, in his response to Hussein, that these Dawah guys don’t want discussion, but a monologue. Because no one beyond them and their fellow believers behaves as if the Internet is a shariah zone, the gents who call themselves the Global Dawah Movement/Mission Dawah act like spoiled brats, especially when they’re critiqued. I’d have to say Peter handled the situation admirably, and responded beautifully, by refusing to cave in to these guys, and continuing to call them out on their lies, hypocrisy, and individual whinefests, whose only apparent purposes were to poison the well against outsiders to keep the faithful so and to curry sympathy with, and loyalty from, said faithful. In short, as far as I’m concerned, in trying to save face–especially in the face of Peter’s criticisms–the Global Dawah Movement/Mission Dawah have shot themselves in the collective foot.

Oh, and to the Global Dawah Movement/Mission Dawah: Lying through your teeth doesn’t count as flossing.

 

The videos (and a Facebook link) in question:

https://m.facebook.com/imranhusseindawah?refsrc=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fimranhusseindawah

 

 

                                                           

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Apology

I know this is now long overdue, but I have a confession to make: There was a time–about a decade ago–when I was at my most gullible. Ten years ago, I became a member of a group in Vancouver, which is ostensibly anti-war, known as Mobilization Against War and Occupation (MAWO for short). I joined this particular group because I thought doing so would allow me to make a difference. I got out of that a few years ago (when I was roughly 33 years old), after realizing I was wrong about what is now a major point of contention between myself and MAWO: That is, religion. In particular, Islam.

MAWO’s take on religion is that it’s merely a smokescreen, obscuring what they consider to be the real issues, all of them surrounding war and occupation. While it’s true that the only time the mainstream media says anything critical about religion is when it discusses Islam (while giving Christianity a pass for just about everything–or trying to, anyhow), I’ve come to the conclusion that the majority of MAWO’s members–including those in positions of leadership within that group–as Sam Harris once put it, have no clue what it’s like to truly believe in God–of any type or stripe. For instance, when the Danish newspaper Jyllens-Posten published some cartoons depicting the prophet Mohammed, MAWO staged a rally, in conjunction with local representatives of the Muslim community, to decry the cartoons (this was before I joined, by the way), claiming the cartoons helped spread Islamophobia, and thus supported war and occupation in what they deemed oppressed nations, such as Afghanistan and Iraq. No mention was made of the more violent reactions on the part of Islamists to the cartoons, or of Islamic religious leaders in Denmark including pictures that weren’t a part of the collection published by Jyllens-Posten; the point was to decry the cartoons as part of an alleged attempt to separate ordinary people in developed nations from their counterparts in the Muslim communities in those nations and in the Middle East and Afghanistan (which is, for those who don’t know, in Central Asia). Afterwards, when Somalia substituted its Union of Islamic Courts government with a transitional government, and the United Nations talked about stepping into Sudan, MAWO formed a group dealing with issues regarding possible interventions in African nations (which I was–albeit a small–part of), to protest any interventions in any African nations from developed nations; MAWO and this group (whose name escapes me) even went so far as to accuse Doctors Without Borders of paving the way towards war and occupation in Sudan. In short, MAWO ignores, either by negligence, design, or a combination, the heinous crimes and threats that Islamists make in the name of Islam, while giving Islam and its most hardcore adherents a pass for everything–hell, in the world according to MAWO, 9-11 was the fault of imperialism, and had nothing to do with Islamism or Islam. Also, they tout George Galloway as something akin to a hero, as he echoes what they believe. On top of all of this, they, as well as companion groups Iranian Community Against War (ICAW) and Indigenous Rights and Action Project (IRAP) liken the actions of groups such as the Taliban, al-Qaeda, ISIS, and other Islamist groups to struggles of students and working people in developed nations, and those of Indigenous people in the Americas. And I fell for all of this, and more, hook, line, and sinker. Given their history, I think I know their take on the situation regarding Charlie Hebdo, though I don’t know if they’ve ever talked about it.

Now, I know better. I realize, in participating in MAWO’s mental masturbation, both in public and private, I’ve actually done more harm than good–especially in convincing people to ignore the heinous acts committed in the name of Islam–and I can only hope that whatever work I do to promote secular humanism, and any and all other work I do to truly make the world a better place, will make even a tiny dent in the damage I’ve done during my time with MAWO and its companion groups.

Please understand I have nothing against people who happen to have been raised to believe in Islam, and still identify as Muslim, especially out of fear of what will happen to them if they leave the faith. I do have a problem with promoting the idea that Islam is special and should thus be above criticism, satire, parody, and ridicule; Islamists and the most hardcore Muslims will just, like all religious people of all degrees of devotion, have to grow up and realize the world doesn’t revolve around them, and try to tolerate us infidels doing things they don’t like, as long as we don’t break any laws of the lands we happen to live in, or harm or inconvenience anyone else. I don’t condone inflicting any harm on, or actually discriminating against, people just because of things such as religious beliefs, but no one should receive special consideration and preferential treatment–and that includes Muslims. And I realize that entities such as ISIS, the Taliban, al-Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood, and other Islamist groups do what they do out of a sense of, not injustice or inequality, but entitlement.

To all victims of Islam and the heinous acts carried out in its name–Muslim, ex-Muslim, and beyond–I offer my sincerest apologies for my thoughtlessness from a decade ago, and the last few years–simply because I didn’t follow my Grade Nine history teacher’s admonishment to do my bloody homework.

The Duggars: It’s Not Over Yet

Within the last week, I’ve gotten wind of news that Josh Duggar, eldest son to Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar and a father himself, sexually abused a number of girls in his early teens–some of them his own sisters–and that Jim Bob and Michelle covered it up for years and bent over backwards to prevent him from being prosecuted for it, even going so far as to convince the courts to compound Josh’s crimes.

I must admit, I’m not surprised to hear this news. I knew something like this would come out of the Duggar camp–it’s always been a question of when.

What Jim Bob and Michelle apparently don’t realize is that they’ve done much more damage to their own, and their family’s, image and reputation by covering up Josh’s crimes than they would have if they had let him go through the system. The interesting thing about this situation is that, mere months ago, Michelle made a robocall to the citizens of Fayetteville, Arkansas in an attempt to convince them to vote to allow members of the LGBT community to be overtly discriminated against–and she and Jim Bob actively campaigned, and donated a generous amount of money (over $100, 000) to the campaign, to deny the LGBT community basic human rights–claiming concern about women and girls being traumatized by men, yet a few of their own daughters were traumatized by their eldest son, and they’ve covered that up, while ensuring the law never dealt with the son. Talk about double standards. The act, and cover-up, are one hell of a way to pay back the girls Josh attacked for their trust.

I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m scared for Josh’s kids, given what those of us with functioning mental faculties know about how sex offenders operate (hint: they rarely reform). Ergo, any statements about Jim Bob’s claims that Josh was ‘disciplined’ for abusing his sisters and some other girls, claims the sisters ‘forgave’ Josh (as if they had any choice), and Josh’s statement, “I acted inexcusably,”are worthless–the simple fact is that Josh Duggar is an unindicted criminal. The comments Josh and his parents have made on this subject translate to: “We’re sorry we got caught and now the world knows about this.” The truth is, if Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar actually cared about their children’s well-being, they wouldn’t raise them the way they are, and they would never have placed their family in the public eye in the first place.

But the worst is yet to come. Apparently, despite calls to do so, The Learning Channel, which airs the Duggars’ show, 19 Kids and Counting, has no plans to cancel the show or even take the Duggars off the air, but, if Freethought Blogs is to be believed, may make a show featuring the ‘newlywed and newly-mom girls.’ I understand the Duggars, and 19 Kids, have proven to be a real cash cow for TLC, and TLC clearly want to milk it for all it’s worth, even at the expense of the kids. But when the cash cow becomes a public-relations disaster, that’s when it’s time to cut ties. A fair number of advertisers have withdrawn commercial support from 19 Kids, but obviously not enough for TLC to get the message. I hold out hope that some in TLC’s upper echelons have something resembling common human decency (or, at least, some understanding of public relations and business ethics) and will–oh, I don’t know…do the right thing and cut ties with the Duggars for good? There’s more to being in business than just making money, and as for the fans…well, if TLC does cancel 19 Kids and end any and all business relationships with the Duggar family, they’ll just have to suck it up and move on–the world, after all, does not revolve around them, just like the Duggars don’t deserve special consideration or preferential treatment.

This is the last time I want to deal with this low-hanging fruit, but, as an adult, I realize I can’t always get what I want. After all, as Lenny Kravitz once sang, it ain’t over ’til it’s over.

Belle Gibson

Until recently, I’ve never heard of this individual. Under the circumstances in which I did, I wish it had stayed that way.

Belle Gibson is reportedly the brains behind TheWholePantry, which is ostensibly a healthy-lifestyle application; there was to be a cookbook based on it. That all ended recently, when Gibson was essentially forced to admit she lied about having had several forms of cancer and donating to charities, apparently with no remorse for the lying per se.

By lying about having had cancer and then foregone chemotherapy and other cancer treatments and ‘cured’ her cancers solely by means of a healthy diet and lifestyle, Gibson may have contributed to the needless suffering and death of a healthy portion of people, who were desperate for some shred of hope, apparently thinking, ‘Hey, it worked for her, maybe it will work for me’–all because one Belle Gibson decided to heed the siren song of easy money. And I wonder how the charities she claimed to donate to felt when they didn’t see any of that money in their coffers. (The Wikipedia page which tells this story claims the Victorian State authorities are investigating Gibson and TheWholePantry’s claims of charitable donations.) But the main issue here, as far as I’m concerned, is the fact that Gibson swindled people, and may have cost a number of them their lives. I, for one, hope Gibson spends some time inside a jail cell, simply for fraud–if it doesn’t teach her a lesson, then it stands some chance of sending a message: If you follow in one Annabelle Natalie Gibson’s footsteps, you’re going to get fucked.

And I just love how Gibson claims she lied because she had a difficult childhood, in an obvious, and pathetic, attempt to absolve herself, and convince the rest of us to absolve her, of any responsibility for her actions and their consequences. It may not even be true, but, if it is, in saying it, Gibson is just rubbing salt in the wounds she inflicted on her victims and their families, and, in the bargain, insults those of us who had difficult, even traumatic, childhoods yet managed to grow up to become more or less decent people and contributing, productive members of society, rather than sociopathic, parasitic wastes of space like Gibson. As is so often said, a difficult childhood is no excuse for any bad behaviour in adulthood.

I realize Gibson had some enablers, chief among them Elle Australia (‘The Most Inspiring Woman You’ve Met This Year,’ ‘What We Know About Belle Gibson’), Bespoke Approach, and the writers who wrote so glowingly about Gibson and her–ahem–story without doing their due diligence; even Pantheon and Penguin Books and Apple worked with Gibson and promoted TheWholePantry until they realized it was built on a foundation of falsehoods, in which case they cut ties with Gibson and TheWholePantry. But I insist on putting the majority of the responsibility for this fiasco on Gibson, simply because she got this particular ball of bullshit rolling, and because of the principle of cui bono–literally translated from Latin, ‘to whose benefit’–and, let’s face it, Gibson’s actions were for her own benefit. Healthy lifestyle? It seems here that the lifestyle that Belle Gibson has had–apparently even before she created TheWholePantry–is being full of shit. And, it seems, it will be her legacy.

Alien Abductions and Near-Death Experiences

OK, so stories about alien abductions and near-death experiences aren’t as popular now as they once were, but they are, by no means, a dead issue, either, thus they are still part of the popular-cultural landscape. And I’m commenting on these stories as part of popular culture because, as there is no tangible evidence to suggest any of them are true–and one of the people who told one of these stories admitted the story wasn’t true–they are merely part of popular culture

Others have commented on this, and I will add my own voice to the chorus: Stories about alien abductions and near-death experiences sound awfully similar to each other. From what I’ve heard of either kind of story, the people who tell them merely parrot those who came before them, and/or are ripping off books, magazine articles, movies, TV shows, etc. The people who tell these stories are either: a) poorly educated, if at all; b) lonely, highly suggestible, and/or need to get out more; or c) shysters, especially if they’re making a shit-ton of money off of books, movies, etc.–unless they’re children, in which case they’re just being exploited.

Which brings me to the one person I mentioned in the first paragraph, who admitted his near-death-experience story was made up. This individual, a boy named Alex Malarkey, was in a car collision, which put him in a coma for several months; Alex is now a paraplegic because of the collision. Alex’s story of having gone to heaven has apparently made quite a bit of money, from book and movie deals, none of which has gone to Alex himself. Oh, I think I should mention, for those of you not in the know, that ‘malarkey,’ when not used as a family name (surname), is another synonym for ‘bullshit.’ And has anyone noticed that no one who has claimed to have had a near-death experience has ever claimed to have gone to hell? At least none that I’ve heard.

You know, I can play this game. I’ve never been abducted by aliens, or had a near-death experience (unless you count my mother’s having nearly miscarried me), but I could claim one or the other, or both, write a book, possibly make a movie deal, and with that pay off all of my debt and live high on the hog for the rest of my natural life–even if it came to light that I was never abducted by aliens or had a near-death experience, as there is a subset of credulous people who will deny the truth about my claims. All I have to do is parrot what everyone else is saying. The only thing stopping me is what I see every time I look in the mirror; principles matter more to me than money.

Unless and until cold, hard evidence–as opposed to post hoc rationalizations, arguments from: ignorance, incredulity, authority, popularity, or other logical fallacies–presents itself, I hold the position that anyone who writes and sells books, or makes movies, or otherwise makes money off of the alien-abduction or near-death-experience stories is either suggestible themselves or, unless children, con artists making money off of other people’s suggestibility.

Ken Denike and Sophia Woo

Don’t you just love it when people do or say things that negatively impact on other people’s lives, then, when they’re called out on it and even disciplined for it, they act like they’re the victims?

That’s what Vancouver politicians–and former members of Vancouver municipal political party the Non-Partisan Association, or NPA–Ken Denike and Sophia Woo are doing, in terms of at least two lawsuits (that I know of) that they’re involved in as plaintiffs, one against the Vancouver School Board to get their transgender policy overturned or at least amended, and a defamation lawsuit against the NPA and Vancouver city councillor Elizabeth Ball.

To bring everyone up to speed, the NPA ousted Denike and Woo for actions they took outside of the proper party protocols, and for comments they made about the LGBTQ community on various occasions, most notably at a press conference, where they stated that ‘a policy regarding sexual orientation and gender identity could decrease the enrollment of international students and therefore hurt the Vancouver School Board’s budget’ and ‘the policy, which allows transgender students to use the bathroom of their choice, could hurt real estate prices’ (because, as we all know, real estate prices and property values trump human rights). Now Denike and Woo are claiming the NPA are falsely accusing them of being homophobic and transphobic. I, for one, must not know what homophobia and transphobia are, because these comments sound homophobic and transphobic to me–and they’re merely the tip of the iceberg in terms of comments they made about the LGBTQ community, including comments they’ve made at a picnic for the Christian Social Concern Fellowship.

But worse is the lawsuit against the Vancouver School Board, as the lives of children could be impacted if the plaintiffs of this lawsuit win. So many youth have committed suicide over the years on account of having been bullied for openly identifying as gay, bisexual, or transgender, or otherwise not conforming to outdated ideas of gender and gender roles. Denike and Woo have demonstrated that they’re willing to sacrifice the well-being, and even the lives, of children in order to gain votes from a certain segment of the population–in this case, by all appearances, conservative Christians who just can’t seem to get with the times.

As a citizen of Vancouver, I think the Non-Partisan Association did the right thing in ousting Ken Denike and Sophia Woo, even if it was only a public-relations move (though I’m giving the NPA the benefit of the doubt here and assuming they actually care about the rights of everyone who lives in Vancouver), and wish them the best of luck in resolving their legal snafu with Denike and Woo. And I hope the courts see the lawsuit against the Vancouver School Board vis-a-vis its transgender policy for the joke that it is, and throw it out. As for Denike and Woo, I have only this to say to them: Learn what real defamation is, and knock it off with the crocodile tears and temper tantrums.

 

Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar

These two have been major bees in my bonnet practically since they crossed my radar, mostly because of the back-ass-wards fundamentalist Christian views they spew, chiefly via their ‘reality’-television series, 19 Kids and Counting, even more because of the way they exploit their offspring, and deny them any freedom and agency (though the adult offspring are now willing victims) in the name of pushing their religious views and agenda, inspired chiefly by fallen preachers Doug Phillips and Bill ‘Grab-Ass’ Gothard, who were caught with their pants down. So no surprise these two subhumans would be among the first entries into my personal rogues’ gallery. It was either them or Faytene Kryskow.

The recent kerfuffle over Chapter 119 of Ordinance No. 5703 in Fayetteville, Arkansas is just the tip of a very sordid iceberg. I myself first learned about the Duggars and the fundamentalist-Christian movement they’re members of, Quiverfull, in an article in Bitch magazine, titled ‘Multiply and Conquer,’ which discusses Quiverfull’s, and the Duggars’, anti-woman views, which state women’s sole purpose for existing is to marry heterosexual men–chosen by their fathers, of course–and pop out kids like Pez dispensers, like Michelle Duggar has done (though I speculate she decided on her own to marry Jim Bob). Further research showed–surprise, surprise–that they’re also anti-gay. And, on one episode of 19 Kids, the family visits the Creation Museum run by Ken Ham, and talks crap about evolution–or, rather, the typical creationist strawman of evolution. And let’s not forget Michelle Duggar’s denial that the world is overpopulated, and that, in the same breath, she quoted the late Mother Teresa: “Saying there are too many children is like saying there are too many flowers,” then added, “We need more children because we need more joy.” This last statement is the most selfish one I’ve ever heard, especially considering the world’s population is now at seven billion people (that’s billion–with a ‘B’), and I submit to anyone reading this that if you feel the need to bring kids into this world who never asked to be here because you need more joy in your life–especially if you can’t find other ways to get it–there is something seriously wrong with you, and you need to seek professional help–pronto.

What angers me only slightly more than the way that Jim Bob and Michelle exploit their kids for their own personal gain and to push their nefarious fundamentalist-religious agenda is the amount of influence they have, especially among the poorly educated. Much like the Dalai Lama, the platitudes they utter are those of a simpleton, and not even original (though I seriously doubt, at this juncture, that they’re capable of anything even remotely resembling original thought), yet, much like the Dalai Lama, they, and their family, manage to generate enough charisma to inspire sycophantic fawning in as many people as they have, including some otherwise intelligent people–though I must credit those who have seen through the Duggars’ schtick, and called them out on it. But I still hope they don’t have more influence on politics than they should have, and that society can progress relatively unhindered.

Now, I realize Jim Bob, Michelle, and Company are merely part of a huger problem, and far be it from me to waste time chasing symptoms. But this couple has a wide platform, thanks to current celebrity culture, from which to spew their filth, and, as previously mentioned, exploit their kids in the process. As a result, I hope they, sooner rather than later, fade back into much-deserved obscurity and anonymity.

 

 

 

Jim Prentice Vs. The Future

I picked up today’s issue of Metro newspaper during my first break at work today, and discovered an article in which Alberta’s current premier, Jim Prentice, claimed ‘Canada’s future hangs in the balance’ if proposed pipeline projects–in particular, the Northern Gateway, Trans Mountain, XL Keystone, and Energy East–aren’t approved for construction.

Surprisingly, seeing as I’m saying something about this, I disagree–especially given the risks involved in burst pipelines and oil spills, and the overall environmental ruin the pipelines will cause if constructed. The fact is, industrialized countries have developed an over-dependency on oil and various types of gas for energy needs, and the oil and gas industry–Alberta’s included–have a vested interest in keeping us overly dependent on oil and gas as forms of energy, instead of investing in developing other forms of energy for our needs. What Premier Prentice–like his predecessor, Alison Redford–fail to realize, in her, and now his, zeal to push the pipeline projects onto the Canadian public, is that the generations after us will pay through the nose for the self-interest and short-term personal gain of, among others, the provincial government of Alberta and its corporate sponsors, most of them in the oil-and-gas industry.

Prentice claims that Canadians will ‘feel the pain (of having no more pipelines) as and when this begins to happen.’ However, we, and, more importantly, our descendents, will feel even more pain and devastation if this generation doesn’t discover other ways to generate energy which don’t impact the planet as much as oil and gas do, and if the oil-and-gas industry doesn’t release the choke-hold it shares with the coal industry on the energy-production corner of the economy.

National Novel Writing Month: In the Winners’ Circle

Yes, I know it’s been a while since I’ve last posted, but I felt I had to put this, among other things, on the back burner while I participated in this year’s National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). It was worth it, though, because, on my second attempt with this particular contest, I made it past the 50,000-word benchmark, and made it into the winners’ circle!

Make no mistake, it took some doing on my part to make it to 50,000 (or, in my case, 50, 682–50, 482 according to the NaNoWriMo web site) words. Yes, I experienced frustration, especially during the last week of the contest, which was also the last full week of November. But I did it, and now I want to take a breather before getting back on that proverbial horse.

National Novel Writing Month

As many of you may now know, it’s the first of November here in the Northern/Western Hemisphere, and I’ve spent the better part of the day writing the first chapter of my entry for this year’s National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), as today is the first day of that event. One chapter down, twenty-nine days and nineteen chapters to go.

I’ll confess I didn’t adequately prepare for this year’s NaNoWriMo: I didn’t storyboard, and I finished my chapter outline for my entry only late last night, after wrestling with it for less than a week; truth be told, I squandered my preparation time watching YouTube videos. But I managed to get through this first day relatively unscathed; however, I’m hoping my novel doesn’t suffer too much on account of my lack of proper preparation and planning. But waking up this morning was like waking up on Christmas morning–there was joy and excitement in the atmosphere in my immediate environment, and the feeling that anything was possible. Here’s hoping I can keep up that mindset until the end of the month.

Anyway, it’s been a long day, and I want to relax before going to bed, and then getting up early tomorrow morning to do it all again.