Dennis Markuze threats reported in 2009

In September, 2009, Prof. PZ Myers asked for advice on how to report death threats from Canada:

  • Time to activate Team Canada! “He’s leaving a few hundred threatening messages a day, which I clean up as I find them, and has also said he is emailing these threats to every individual member of my university (I haven’t verified that he has yet, but he has done so in the past). I’d say he is just another deranged spammer, except that he’s been escalating lately — the messages have become more personal and much more violent. …— at some point he’s going to snap and cause harm to himself or others, and investigators will look with considerable alarm at the rising tide of hysterical threats he has been posting and wonder why no one did anything…. I think he’s too scrambled up in the head to make the concerted effort necessary to get all the way to Morris, Minnesota (and I have mentioned him to the local police), so I’m not barricading my doors — but he has loudly announced his desire to commit mass murder. I think the innocent residents of Ottawa or Montreal (it’s not clear where he lives) are in some danger.”   PZ got lots of good advice in the comments.
  • And he acted on them: Update on Dennis Markuze. “I gathered together all of the crazy posts he made over the course of one evening, and printed them out in very small print — it made for a small 61 page book, which would be impressive if it weren’t so repetitive and vapid. I took it down to the local police station, along with what little we know about Markuze’s addresses, IP numbers, email, and phone numbers, and plopped it down in front of a police officer….. It is now entirely in the hands of law enforcement, and all further complaints will wend their ponderous way through official channels. Our local police will talk to the Montreal police and alert them to the loon on a hair trigger in their midst, and will also alert national law agencies.” Too bad the Montreal Police can still confidently say: “NOBODY EVER COMPLAINED BEFORE!”

PZ Myers wins International Humanist award

The face of a bearded, cheerful, middle-aged man with the Thames river and London in the background

Prof. PZ Myers

PZ Myers, author of the blog Pharyngula, has been named the International Humanist of 2011, at the 18th World Humanist Congress of the International Humanist and Ethical Union in Oslo, Norway. He’s now the distinguished author!

Commenter Strange Gods before Me pointed out:

This puts you [PZ] in very distinguished company (besides us [his loyal readers], I mean).

http://www.iheu.org/iheu-awards

International Humanist Award

1970: Barry Commoner (USA), environmentalist professor, for his activities in the field of preservation of the world environment. Commoner played a major role in achieving worldwide commitment to the cause of ecology.

1974: Harold Blackham (UK), who played a key role in founding IHEU, for his long-standing involvement with ethical Humanism in Britain and his achievements in the field of moral education.

1978: V M Tarkunde (India), a former judge of the Bombay court, who had shown great courage during the state of emergency in his country. He defended the values of democracy and dealt with many cases that were related to the repressive measures of the Indian government in that period.

1982: Kurt Partzsch (Germany), a former Minister for Social Affairs of Lower Saxony, for his contributions to the cause of human well-being and for his initiatives in social work in particular.

1986: Arnold Clausse (Belgium). A professor emeritus of education, who as president of the Ligue Internationale de l’Enseignement had promoted a public educational system based on the principles of equal chances for all, free inquiry and high quality.

1986: The Atheist Centre (India), for their efforts to being Humanism in practice, by means of education, social work and their fight tagainst superstition and religious intolerance.

1988: Andrei Sakharov (USSR), atom scientist and winner of the Nobel Prize for Peace, for his indefatigable struggle for the cause of human rights in his country, and for his Humanist ideals. The award was presented in absentia, as at that time the Soviet authorities refused to give him permission to leave the country.

1990: Alexander Dubcek (Czechoslovakia), in recognition of his attempts in the 1960s to give communism in his country a more human face. Dubcek, who after 1968 had to pay a heavy toll for his dedication to his ideals of democracy and humanity, stressed in his speech that it is morality and humanity that give meaning to life.

1992: Pieter Admiraal (Netherlands), a Dutch anaesthetist, for advocating the right of self-determination in the field of voluntary euthanasia.

1996: Nettie Klein (Netherlands) for services to IHEU as volunteer secretary general, 1982-1996.

1999: Professor Paul Kurtz (USA), in recognition of the immensely important role he has played for both the American and the international Humanist movements.

2002: Amartya Sen (India), Master of Trinity College, Cambridge, and winner of the 1998 Nobel Prize for Economics, for contribution to the recognition of the purpose of development as the enhancement of individual freedom: to increase the choices available to ordinary people.

2005: Jean-Claude Pecker (France), a distinguished scientist, a member of the French Legion of Honour, a former President of the International Astronomical Union, and a stalwart Rationalist and Humanist.

2008: Philip Pullman (United Kingdom), author of the His Dark Materials trilogy, a triumphant work of freethought.

The Congress is held every three years.

What makes PZ angry

The face of a bearded, cheerful, middle-aged man with the Thames river and London in the background

PZ Myers

Science blogger and outspoken atheist PZ Myers is often accused of insulting religious people just for being religious. But that isn’t so. He has no problem with people who have a quiet religious belief and mind their own business, except insofar as they legitimize religious extremists. He is angry at people who do things like this:

  • Accommodate and collaborate with genocidal invaders to protect their church (e.g., the Pope in World War II)
  • Act as an arbiter of morals while sinning egregiously and harmfully
  • Act as if God is a person with opinions that match theirs when trying to impose religious rules but fall back on an impersonal universe as God when called on it.
  • Advocate against someone else’s right to make their own decision in a situation they themselves will never be in
  • Allow honour killing— killing girls and women to restore a family’s “honour”
  • Argue against straw men and never feel obliged to discover the truth
  • Assume that God is talking to them and not to anyone who disagrees with them
  • Assume that they are blessed by God because of their good fortune in where they were born
  • Assume that women are sexual temptresses and so regard them in a predatory manner
  • Beat, arrest, or rape women who, accidentally or otherwise, show an ankle or some other body part
  • Beg the question and claim that their scripture is true because it’s the word of God and it says it’s true
  • Believe men’s testimony over women’s in court because God says so
  • Believe that wine and crackers are miraculously turned into the body and blood of a god and denigrating those who don’t believe
  • Bestow on themselves the title of “Father” while raping children
  • Bilk people out of their money
  • Blame and punish women who are raped for having sex
  • Blame the victims of random misfortune for bringing it on themselves
  • Blame their religious indignation on the people who offended them by not following the exact same rules and holding the exact same opinions
  • Bomb or kill for religion
  • Care more about reputation than truth
  • Cite one of the same twenty refuted creationist arguments that depend on mis-stating what evolutionary theory is or predicts, for the 1000th time.
  • Close their eyes to the actual consequences of their religiously based policies
  • Codify an attitude that women are unclean and children are the property of their parents
  • Collect money for charity but spend it on themselves or the church
  • Collect money for missionary work that is amounts to a free vacation for the missionary
  • Commit murder at the command of a religious authority or conspire to make others do so or protect the murderers
  • Conduct their own genocide among the peoples of other countries
  • Conduct literal witch hunts
  • Consider the suffering of a child abuser more than the suffering of his victims
  • Continue counting people who have left their religion, when arguing for their religion because of its popularity
  • Continue to house children together for church-based education although that allows deadly diseases to spread among them (Canadian residential schools)
  • Convert slaves to Christianity but deny them marriage and destroy their families
  • Convince people that they are so fundamentally sinful and flawed that they commit suicide
  • Convince people that they’re tainted by original sin to get money and obedience for “curing” them
  • Count favourable coincidences as miracles
  • Cover up for and protect rapists who raped children
  • Crush someone else’s culture to impose religion on them
  • Decide that God allows them to cheat someone of another religion
  • Declare that atheism is a religion when arguing that it’s a matter of opinion but that it’s not when applying the right of Freedom of Religion (the exact opposite of the truth)
  • Declare that their kind of religiously sanctioned family is the only real kind
  • Declare themselves to be insulted, traumatized and hated if someone dares to disagree with them
  • Define women as evil or inferior
  • Degrade someone of another religion and then despise them for being degraded
  • Demand that people who don’t believe as they do nevertheless obey all their religion’s rules anyway
  • Denigrate the qualifications of those they disagree with
  • Deny civil rights to other people
  • Deny medical care to children while praying for a miracle
  • Deny that their religion is largely an accident of where they were born and how they were brought up
  • Deny the role of human nature in the formation of religions
  • Deny women access to medical care for religious reasons, e.g. the doctor is male
  • Deny women the right to be morally autonomous human beings
  • Despise sex and sexuality so much that they mistreat prostitutes and unwed mothers (and babysitters cousins and neighbours and aunts!)
  • Discourage critical thinking and questioning because that might undermine their religion
  • Discriminate against people (students, colleagues, business owners, etc.) who do not profess the same religion
  • Disguise racism and xenophobia as secularism in banning other people’s religious symbols and customs
  • Distort the meaning of “miracle” so that any favourable event in a disaster is proof of God
  • Don’t bother with medical care for people in their so-called hospitals but get the best modern medicine for themselves (‘Mother’ Teresa)
  • Drive young men out of the community so there will be more young women for high-status men
  • Encourage the subjugation and oppression of women in private and public
  • Enshrine institutional antisemitism
  • Expel family members because of religious reasoning
  • Fail to notice that “love me or I will torture you forever” is a sick relationship
  • Fail to report crimes, breaking the law and denying morality, because it would tarnish the reputation of the church or lessen church authority
  • Fail to take responsibility for their own lust, but project it onto the objects of their lust
  • Feel free to tell people what those people worship, think, and feel based on their own prejudices
  • Feel free to tell unbelievers that they are monsters of immorality who only want the freedom to sin, yet not notice what that says about their own morals
  • Find it easier to believe that a wafer is God than that their God is a cruel tyrant
  • Force mandatory motherhood on women unwilling and unprepared to be parents
  • Force themselves and their opinions into people’s most intimate, private, and personal decisions
  • Force women to wear concealing, hot, uncomfortable clothing
  • Forget that Jesus was a Jew and that antisemitic passages were added to the Bible by early Christian groups squabbling amongst themselves
  • Forgive the criminal but not his victim
  • Frighten defenceless children with horror stories, to control them
  • Frighten people so much that they kill their families or commit suicide or both
  • Hypocritically command people not to do something that they do themselves
  • Ignore the fact that prayers are magic spells and miracles would be magic if they occurred
  • Incite hatred of others because of religion
  • Infiltrate governing bodies solely to insert a religious influence
  • Insist, against all evidence, that sexual orientation is a choice so they can blame people for it
  • Insult, cheat, mistreat, or kill people who believe in other religions.
  • Interfere with medical and family decisions because of religion
  • Invent divine revelations to justify taking what their want (hello, Joseph Smith Jr.!)
  • Justify beating children because it’s in the bible
  • Justify slavery but ignore the Biblical injunction to free slaves after seven years
  • Justify thrashing women because God said so
  • Justify wasting the Earth’s resources and ecosystems because God said they were Man’s playtoy
  • Keep a job as a religious authority when they don’t believe because they want the soft living and the money
  • Keep a woman a prisoner to protect her purity
  • Keep arguing without ever looking at relevant evidence
  • Kill girls who might disgrace the family or who disobey their fathers
  • Kill innocent people over the images of a religious figure
  • Kill someone because they are an atheist
  • Kill someone whom they think is a homosexual
  • Kill someone whom they think is a witch
  • Harm someone who is obeying the laws of the land, which differs from the believer’s interpretation of his religion
  • Kill someone for their magic parts
  • Kill, threaten, or believe it’s a duty to kill non-believers who criticize their religion
  • Kill, threaten, or believe it’s a duty to kill people who leave their religion
  • Let religion interfere with government for the good of all people
  • Let religion interfere with sanitary practices in medical care
  • Let women’s health suffer because of religion
  • Lie about scientists who are trying to do an honest job of finding out the truth about the universe
  • Lie about the effectiveness of condoms in preventing STDs or about what condoms do
  • Lie and misrepresent their purposes because of religious motivations (like the makers of Expelled)
  • Lie, slander, misquote, misrepresent scientists who are trying to do an honest job of finding out the truth about the universe
  • Limit children’s education so that they will not learn that their religion is illogical and unrealistic or that there is a wider world beyond their home culture
  • Live rich while their parishioners are poor
  • Make a profit on suffering
  • Make people ashamed or guilty over normal activities such as masturbation or sex
  • Make predictions that cause people to ruin their lives, give away their money, and harm their families
  • Make procreation a religious duty to increase the number of their followers
  • Make religion the basis of xenophobia
  • Make religion the justification for genocide
  • Misrepresent the opinions of scientists by quote-mining, especially across different topics
  • Mis-state scientific facts to bolster their arguments (AKA the Behe Blunder)
  • Move abusers to remote areas because they will escape the notice of authorities (Canadian churches in Yukon Territory)
  • Move the goalposts in an argument because their God can’t be allowed to lose
  • Name children, politicians, or others as witches or evil beings to enhance or support their reputation or power
  • Pass blasphemy laws
  • Pass laws based on religion, to be imposed on everyone regardless of religion
  • Pass laws that kill women by denying them medical care
  • Persist in sinning without making restitution to their victims because God forgives them every time
  • Persist in using arguments that have been disproved for them before
  • Physically assault someone in church for walking back to his seat without swallowing his wafer
  • Pick and choose which Biblical verses to obey and despise others who choose different verses
  • Picket, harass, intimidate, threaten, or harm anyone who wants to have or provide a safe, legal abortion
  • Practise symbolic cannibalism but refuse to acknowledge it
  • Presume to dictate morals to the world when they are child rapists and protectors of abusers
  • Pretend that the basis for evolutionary theory is argument from authority
  • Promote a false dichotomy between creationism and evolutionary theory
  • Promulgate religious ideas that cause people to harm their children or their families or to break up families
  • Protect, hide, and move child rapists so that they can continue their crimes
  • Punish people that they said God would punish
  • Rape or abuse children, wards, orphans, nuns, patients, employees, members of the congregation, or anyone else
  • Refuse to take people off their membership list when they want to leave
  • Regard the number of wives they have as points for gaining status in Heaven
  • Reject people unless those people reject their basic nature
  • Remain ignorant of history
  • Rewrite history to make their religion look good
  • Riot because their God is offended
  • Sanctify the fetus and the fertilized egg to the point that women’s health is harmed
  • Sell useless cures (miracles, prayer mats, holy water) that cost money and delay reality-based treatment
  • Sentence people to death for crimes against religion or gods
  • Shun, reject, insult, or kill people who don’t believe in their religion
  • Stifle and deny women’s talents for leadership
  • Subvert justice to protect the reputation of the church
  • Take a religious tax exemption and then meddle in politics
  • Take every later addition to their scriptures inserted by someone with a point to prove as part of an original, inerrant text
  • Teach bad logic and rationalization to justify religion to children
  • Tell people that they are so flawed that they might as well kill themselves—especially when they also teach that suicide is a sin
  • Tell unbelievers that they will burn in hell rfor eternity and don’t notice that is a threat and an insult.
  • Terrify children with tales of damnation and divine punishment
  • Think it’s OK to kill people who don’t follow their religion’s rules (e.g. people who allow abortion or eat beef)
  • Think that men are more valuable than women because God said so.
  • Think that they are always right because God agrees with them
  • Threaten violence or death—justified by religion—to those who displease them
  • Train children to think that they have sinned when something goes wrong
  • Try to control other people’s, especially women’s, lives by religiously inspired laws or feelings of guilt
  • Try to exorcise people or drive out demons instead of getting medical or psychiatric help for them or just realizing that disagreeing with parental authority isn’t demonic
  • Try to discredit science because it contradicts their religion
  • Try to force pregnancy on unwilling woman as punishment for the sin of having sex
  • Try to sabotage education
  • Undermine the credibility of sexual assault victims when they know that the assaulter is guilty
  • Urge people to give more to their religion than they can properly afford
  • Use 30,000 women and girls as slave labour for the Church as punishment for having sex (Irish laundries)
  • Use brainwashing techniques such as sleep deprivation and hours of haranguing on their children
  • Use confidence tricks and spying to convince people that they have insights from God
  • Use “divine revelation” to con young women into marriage with an assigned partner
  • Use religion as the excuse for dwelling on other people’s sex lives
  • Use religion to justify homophobia
  • Use religion to justify polygamy
  • Use religion to justify prejudice, social exclusion, political disenfranchisement, etc.
  • Use religion to justify slavery, either as a Biblical institution or to save slaves’ imaginary souls
  • Use religion to justify wars
  • Use religion to limit other people’s choice of occupation (e.g. women, Jews)
  • Use religion to maintain the ancient tradition that fathers own their children and may kill them
  • Use religion to oppress women in a myriad of ways and renew that oppression with each generation
  • Use rhetorical fallacies in anti-evolution arguments
  • Use standard denialist tactics against science
  • Use their influence to block disease prevention measures because their religion makes them want to punish sexual activity (e.g. condoms in Africa, HPV vaccine everywhere)
  • Value women less than men because it’s in their holy scriptures
  • Waste other people’s time, energy, and tax dollars by promoting their religion’s point of view

Squid autograph

This is weird. PZ Myers, author of the most popular science blog in the world, is a biology professor who’s interested in evolutionary biology. His research, and that of his doctoral students, uses zebra fish, one of the common “lab rats” of development because of their short generations and transparent eggs. But in addition, he’s interested in those strange, highly developed molluscs called cephalopods: octopus and squids. He writes about them and posts images of them on his blog. So people started to send him octopus art, squid recipes, and even “tentacle porn”–don’t ask!

So now that he’s on sabbatical and doing a lecture tour in California, one admirer brought a fresh squid to be autographed. Naturally, the professor obliged.

Jesus and Ken Ham seen in pub

PZ-pub-05-Ken-and-Jesus-flash, originally uploaded by monado.

After the Centre for Inquiry talk by PZ Myers on Hallowe’en night in Toronto, Larry Moran led some of the attenders, including PZ, through a short maze of U. of T. buildings and across the street to a pub, where we could continue talking.

There, astute shutterbugs caught Ken Ham asking Jesus for an autograph.

I have other pictures from that evening but most of them are marked “friends only” because I don’t know if people want to let their photos be shown. If you were there and want to see the pictures, just apply to become a friend; then you can tell me if you want your picture, if there is one, to be public.

Is anyone going to the CFI World Conference in Washington, DC?

Chris Clarke’s open letter

Chris Clarke’s open letter to the progressive blogosphere from 2007 seems just as apt today:

It’s a fine thing to slam someone for writing something you find offensive. It’s another thing to slam someone for not writing something they way you would have, or for writing about a subject other than the one you think they ought to have picked. It’s a fine thing to criticize someone moderating comments on their blog in a way you don’t agree with, but it’s another to slam someone for not moderating comments on their blog 24/7. It’s a fine thing to decide that your blog has a specific mission. It’s another to decide that your blog’s mission is the only mission any blog should have.

In short, it’s one thing for you to be disappointed in or angered by bloggers with whom you share some political viewpoints. It’s another to assume they owe you anything other than basic human respect because you’ve done them the favor of reading their work.

It reminds me of some people slamming others not for rejecting science and the scientific method, but for speculating that it’s possible there might be an Ultimate Cause behind it all. I’m looking at you, PZ! We keep saying that we’re separating Methodological Naturalism from Philosphical Naturalism. Let’s do it. Let people who feel the chill winds between the stars keep their metaphorical fig-leaf.

Chris’s whole letter is instructive. He makes quite a few points that I’d like to see added to the Guide to the Intertubes or, better yet, the Guide to Public Discourse:

balance between competing interests is important. Explaining that jokes are jokes will help the pathologically humorless avoid embarrassment, but it ruins the jokes for everyone else. Saying that every time one discusses a bad thing, one is obliged to point out that it is a bad thing, and that bad things are bad, and that failure to point this out every single time is an offense punishable by witch hunt, firing, ostracism and the like? Fuck that noise.

Heh. Reminds me of the furor over Randy Newman’s satirical song, “Short People.”

funny pictures
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An interview with PZ Myers

This is from LowLife.com:

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