Archive for September, 2008

Ramadhan Foundation turns crap computer game into internet sensation

An amateurish computer game, which has all the signs of having been created by a teenager in his bedroom over the summer holidays, has been given a massive publicity boost by The Ramadhan Foundation, who brought it to the world’s attention by complaining about it.

Muslim Massacre (the title speaks for itself) would undoubtedly sunk into internet obscurity along with thousands of other amateur games had it not been for a clown named Mohammed Shafiq, who bleated,

Encouraging children and young people in a game to kill Muslims is unacceptable, tasteless and deeply offensive.

‘There is an increase in violence in this country and some of it comes from video games.

When kids spend six hours a day on violent games they are more likely to go outside and commit violence.

If it was the other way around, with a game featuring Muslims killing Israelis or Americans, there would be uproar and rightly so.

I would urge ISPs to take action against sites like this and there can be no justification for this sort of video game, I hope the person who made this game thinks again.

We would suggest to Mr Shafiq that it is he who should think again, but as he clearly did not think the first time round it would be more accurate to urge him to think the next time he decides to take offence at some obscure material he finds in the backwaters of the internet.

(Hat tip Pickled Politics)

The Pope shall be sodomised in Hell

The Times brings us the barely believable news that an Italian comedian is being prosecuted for making an unflattering prophecy about the fate of Pope Benedict the Whatever.

At an anti-Vatican rally in Rome, comedian Sabina Guzzanti suggested that

within 20 years the Pope will be where he ought to be — in Hell, tormented by great big poofter devils, and very active ones, not passive ones

She now faces prosecution for “offending the honour of the sacred and inviolable person” of the pope, under the 1929 Lateran Treaty between Italy and the Vatican, which stipulates that an insult to the Pope carries the same penalty as an insult to the Italian President. At the time, the President was Mussolini.

Yet another example of Catholics not only being unable to take a joke, but also unwilling to face up to reality. Because the truth of the matter is, Pope Benedict the Whatever will end up in an eternal post-death torture chamber being buggered by demons. It’s a cold, hard fact.

(Hat tip, Butterflies and Wheels)

Satanic Verses doc hits wall of fear

According to The Bookseller, the BBC is making a documentary to mark the 20th anniversary of the publication of The Satanic Verses – but they are having trouble getting people to talk to them.

A publishing source said:

Most of the core people involved feel very strongly even today that they should keep quiet on any matters relating to The Satanic Verses and that it was enough that the hardcover [of the book] was kept in print throughout.

Viz features Stephen Green again

Regular readers of Viz comic (isn’t everybody?) will know that figure-of-fun bigot Stephen Green of failed fundie lobby group Christian Voice is portrayed frequently in their pages. This month’s edition carries a particularly satisfying depiction of him in Hell.

In the strip “Danny’s Inferno” the lord mayor accidentally falls through the doors of young Danny Alighieri’s portable Hell in a Handcart, and finds himself trapped for eternity:

<b>Fate worse than death</b>: The mayor is forced to eat scotch egg crumbs from Stephen Green's beard

Fate worse than death: The mayor is forced to eat scotch egg crumbs from Stephen Green's beard

As you can see from this close-up, the artist has really captured his essence:

This month’s issue also features a “Gilbert Ratchet” story in which God is accidentally killed by a vicar wielding a splat-the-rat bat at the church fete.

YouTube reinstates anti-Scientology vids

<b>War map</b>: Details internet coverage in countries since  the war which begun between the internet and the Church on January 19

War map: Details internet coverage of the war between the internet and the Church of Scientology, which began on January 19 2008

Thousands of anti-scientology videos which had been removed from YouTube have been reposted.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation reported last week that over 4000 DMCA takedown notices had been issued by a non-existent organisation calling itself the American Rights Counsel LLC. YouTube’s policy, which may now be revised, is to respond immediately to such notices by removing the videos in question.

WikiNews identified the source of the illegal takedowns as a Wikipedia editor known as oschaper (thought to be Oliver Schaper). It is not yet known if any legal action will be taken against him.

South Park “insults” religion

The delightful South Park is not to everyone’s taste, it seems. There are a bunch of people in Russia who want to ban it from their television screens (John “Massa” Beyer hasn’t emigrated, has he?).

Now you might associate Russia with censorship of all kinds of things, but a TV programme about a bunch of nine-year-olds that’s won Emmys?

Ah, but the organisation wanting to do the banning is called the Russian Union of Christians of Evangelical Faith. That explains it.

It did cause some controversy when it was launched, parodying, as it did, celebrities, politicians, religion, gay marriage and Saddam Hussein. Perhaps it’s the parodying of religion they don’t like.

Konstantin Bendas, leader of the Christian group, said,

Young children should not be able to turn on the TV after school and watch this. It insults the feelings of religious believers and incites religious and national hatred.

How they prove national and religious hatred has been incited, goodness only knows. As for insulting the feelings of religious believers, well they have the off switch if they don’t like it.

The programme is dubbed into Russian. Perhaps it’s called Gorky Park. Perhaps not.

UPDATE: (Sept 10) Bartholomew’s Notes has more.

Dawkins website blocked in Turkey

According to Turkish posters on the forum, access to the biologist’s website has been blocked in Turkey.

News is filtering through from Turkish sources that the ban has something to do with crazy Muslim creationist Adnan Oktar, aka Harun Yahya, who was he subject of a post there back in May. The cut-and-paste from Reuters reported on Oktar’s 3 year sentence for “creating an illegal organization for personal gain”. It attracted many comments, some giving detailed descriptions of his dodgy activities. Perhaps he didn’t like that.

Prof Dawkins has appealed for more information and help from his Turkish supporters.

It is hard to know how to handle this, while having little inside knowledge of Turkey and no knowledge at all of the language. We have many helpful and loyal volunteers from around the world.
I would be extremely grateful for any Turkish volunteers who might step forward to give advice and translations.

Oktar was single-handedly responsible for the blocking of all sites in Turkey last year, when a few bloggers said some unflattering things about him.

The Jewel of Medina finds UK publisher

Sherry Jones’ agent has announced that she has found publishers for the 7th century historical romance all over the world, but so far only the British one has been revealed.

They are Gibson Square, a small London company whose previous titles include memoirs of John McCain, and Londonistan by Melanie Phillips. The Washington Post tells us that they will release up to 20,000 copies of The Jewel of Medina next month.

Northampton museum redux

There have been some interesting comments on the Northampton museum Darwin exhibition story, and it has been suggested that the post be updated to reflect them.

The facts of the case have not changed, but the positions of the two sides have been somewhat clarified.

<b>Taped up</b>: The offending bit of masking tape, which caused the stir

Taped up: The offending bit of masking tape which caused the stir

Lewis Houston made the original complaint to the museum about a biblical reference in the Darwin exhibit. He did not think the reference was accurate, and asked for it to be changed. This resulted in the museum implementing the “temporary measure” of covering up the reference to “the Biblical view of evolution” with tape. The tape remained for around three years.

Last week Andy Chapman, who queried the black tape with museum staff and had his suspicions confirmed when they informed him that a “religious fundamentalist” had objected to censored words, raised the issue in the local newspaper.

The fact is, Lewis Houston is indeed a creationist. He helped found the Northants Creation Group, which has connections with the egregious, ignorance-promoting Creation Science Movement. However, it cannot be said that he was trying to get evolution thrown out of the museum, as happened in Kenya in 2006. He just thought the biblical view was being misrepresented, and asked for it to be corrected.

In his own words:

It seems that people are determined to read into the original matter I raised about the museum display. I only wandered around the museum in the first place as I had gone along to the outdoor paintings exhibition and had time to spare. At that time I had helped set up the Northants Creation Group and for the past two years now, another team of people have been taking NCG forward.

What did I see, an evolutionary based display in one of the exhibits. I see and read them all the time, they are commonplace and I don’t for one minute think that my personal opinions about them are likely to influence the like of the local museum displaying them. It would take a significant change in the educational/scientific world for that to be even likely.

What did I see after they blocked out the few sentences around the phrases I queried? An evolutionary based display!

I was initally told that the displays were due to be replaced and the text would be rectified then. Knowing NBC budgets I said that I was all for saving tax payers money but perhaps something temporary could be done. I thought their suggestion to cover over the part they did was reasonable. I haven’t seen it since so as to why it remained for so long in this temporary state – ask NBC.

I stand by my view that the text was inaccurate and it doesn’t matter if you label me a creationist, a Christian, a Cobblers supporter or whatever – the comment still stands. I didn’t challenge the Chapman’s motives in raising the issue because he could be an evolutionist, a member of the secular society or his surname begins with ‘c’ – either he has a point of he doesn’t. I think he had as I was surprised to hear the display was still in that state after all this time.

As a citizen I have every right to point out what I perceive to be an error in a public display, especially when I help to fund it.

Now, anyone with any experience of debating with creationists will know that honesty is not one of their most obvious virtues. The degree of self-deception necessary to maintain such a ridiculous world-view in the face of overwhelming evidence is so great that the deceit frequently spills out into their public discourse, often giving the impression that they are simply telling lies. However, there is no reason to believe that Houston is not being perfectly straight with us here.

The dramatic sight of black tape on printed matter inevitably smacks of censorship. The Abingdon Park Museum were clumsy in implementing their fact correction, and very lax in arranging a proper replacement text. Chapman’s recent raising of the issue has helped improve matters, so that is a positive result.

But this is not a case of a creationist trying to suppress science. If it was, he clearly failed, because the exhibition has been going on teaching evolution for the past three years – even with the masking tape obscuring a few lines.

There is a creationist movement in this country. They are pernicious, deceitful, and profoundly stupid – and they must be opposed. Here at MWW we do our bit, along with the far better organised and focused British Centre for Science Education, whose spokesperson has also posted here. But we must pick our battles carefully.

This battle was not carefully picked.

The unkindest cut?

Cotton-wool-wrapped schoolkids in the UK are being denied a poem because it contains stuff about a knife-carrying kid.

An anthology of poems is being deemed unsuitable by the exam board AQA on the basis of one poem, and it is writing to schools advising them to destroy the volumes (the sheer waste is criminal, let alone the censorship), and another one, minus the poem, is being sent out to schools in its place.

The poem begins with the line, “Today I am going to kill something. Anything.”

“It describes the thoughts of a disturbed, isolated individual who feels underappreciated and undervalued and who kills a fly then a goldfish. The poem concludes with this angry loner going outside with a bread knife,” says the BBC (linked to above).

Some teachers have been complaining for years about the poem’s inclusion in the anthology [says the BBC]

In 2002, English staff at a school in Hull, East Yorkshire, refused to teach the poem and said they would even tear the page from the book if they had to.

The exam board said the poem had been a “popular choice” for pupils – allowing GCSE English students to debate issues about the state of mind of the poem’s narrator.

But a spokeswoman said the board had received a complaint and against a background of fears over teenage knife crime had now decided to drop it from the anthology.

But Peter Strauss, the literary agent for Carol Ann Duffy, the poet concerned, isn’t too chuffed. He told the BBC’s iPM programme that the poem was not a promotion of violence.

“This poem is pro-education and anti-violence. It is not glorifying violence in any way,” said Strauss. “Carol Ann Duffy is a vocational poet for the young. She gets children fired up about language and verse. She talks to more schoolchildren than I’ve ever met. She’s encouraged more people to have a love of words and a love of education than anyone else I know.”

And how else do you get kids fired other than by confronting issues? Confronting them via an art form is going to allow the kinds of exploration of taboo activities (whether knives, drugs, booze or underage sex) that a simple “Thou Shalt Not” can never achieve.

But perhaps we should pull Shakespeare favourites from English literature classes because there’s this bloke behind the arras having a knife plunged into his guts. There’s a fair old body count in Hamlet, and of course we get the famous “Is this a dagger” line in Macbeth.

And just how many poems, stories and novels contain the use of swords, knives, guns and the hands of the strangler, not to mention the boot of the bovver boy? Do these prats not understand the word context?

Where do these do-gooders get their ideas from? They’re obviously being paid too much with too little work to do if they have the time to go around looking for everything that doesn’t fit with the current thinking on what is “appropriate”.

You may – may – want to try to make the (controversial) case that kids are desensitised to violence through seeing so much of it on TV, whether in fictional or factual programmes. But having the subject told through a poem, which is going to be discussed and pulled apart for all aspects of its content and structure, can only be a good thing.

Makes you wonder whether half of these people really are fit to be in the education industry.