100 years ago today a huge explosion in Siberia left us with a much greater understanding of just how deadly it can be when the Earth decides to bite more asteroids than it's atmosphere can digest. Being Canadian, I can't help but wonder how differently Canadian history might have played out if this explosion happened just 12 hours earlier or later, and it had a-sploded somewhere near a populated Canadian city. Probably something similar to Halifax, me thinks.
In 2029, the asteroid Apophis will zing right past us (closer than even our geo-sync satellites). When it does that, earth's gravity well will shift its orbital trajectory such that in 2036, it will slam into us. Lets take a few seconds to look at the devastation left at Tunguska, Siberia, and maybe it can help put it into perspective a little bit:
James Randi is to Uri Geller as Robert Lancaster is to Sylvia Browne.
Robert Lancaster, bane of self-proclaimed psychic Sylvia Browne, recently had a chance to see her live. It's a long article, but simply breathtakingly revealing. It's a long read, but if you hate that wheezy-mouth'd fraud as much as I do, you'd be well advised to read it. Trust me.
And while you're at it, poke around the site a little more.
I used to have to sell Sylvia Browne books when I worked at a certain mega-huge Canadian bookstore chain. Well, I never went out of my way to sell them, nor would I suggest people read them. In fact, whenever possible, I would move her books to areas less seen by the public (for instance, I would remove them off the special promotions table when I could). There is nothing I can say about how fraudulent and demonstrably heartless about this sea-hag that has not been already said by Lancaster. But have a look here, here, and here. There's lots out there, and Robert is leading the charge.
Robert, you did us all very proud. You spoke with class undeserving a goblin of Browne's stature. Well played!
A sad day for entertainment today. One of the living legends of comedy, and in my opinion, the last of the "Big 3" comedians who shaped not only standup comedy, but free-speech as we know it, George Carlin, 71, has passed away.
George was perhaps the first comedian I ever had exposure to as a child thanks to his role as "Mr. Conductor" on Shining Time Station, and perhaps more memorably (for me), Rufus, the Bill and Ted movies. Many years later he ironically played an New Jersey bishop who was overhauling the church's image in Kevin Smith's highly controversial (and funny!) 1999 film, Dogma.
But for my money, George's real contribution was what he did in the name of free-speech activism. He understood the U.S. constitution very well, perhaps even better than most of the American legislators who kept arresting him for the antiquated crime of "indecency".
As far as I see it, George's place in comedy history is nothing short of the highest tier of influence over the rest of the industry. Together with Lenny Bruce and Richard Pryor, Carlin forced us to take a long, difficult look at what we punish our own for, and the slippery-slope effect towards thought-police. Carlin was the last of the legends left.
Every (good) comedian/funnyman owes their careers to Carlin (as I suspect it will no doubt be revealed by countless comedian interviews in the coming days): Jerry Seinfeld, David Cross, Eddie Murphy, Chris Rock, Dave Chappelle, Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, Steve Carell, Dave Attell, Bill Mahar, Michael Moore, Al Franken, Janine Garofolo, Bill Hicks, Lewis Black, Billy Connolly, Gilbert Gottfried, Penn & Teller, Sarah Silverman, Whoopi Goldberg...all the direct progeny of Carlin, Pryor and Bruce.
I know it's common to lament after a respected person dies that "there will never be another". But in this case, it's VERY true. Because of the path that George blazed at tremendous peril to himself so that we don't have to, there will never be another George. There simply cannot be.
Piss, shit, fuck, cunt, cocksucker, motherfucker and tits. Never before were 7 foul words so sad and beautiful. Thanks George, it's been funny.
Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk are way-cool movies. I know that I'm probably the last nerd in Canada who waited this long to see Iron Man...but whatever.
I figured that this is an acceptable forum to say that since most people who read skeptic-blogs tend to be fellow-nerds who probably grew up reading the same comic books that I read. Growing up, the Hulk was always my favorite comic character, and I was saddened by the lackluster blockbuster 2003 Hulk film. This time, the filmakers got it right where Ang Lee got it wrong. Ang Lee seemed to think that it's important to show how sad it can be to be the hulk. This time, the filmakers knew that it's important for the Hulk to rip cars in two, fight another gigantic green behemoth, and scream "Hulk Smash." I'm glad that Marvel decided to not hide their head in the sand over the 2003 failure and risk making a new one. It really paid off. I also like this new direction that the Marvel films seem to be going in: slowly, tantalyzingly slowly, building an in-movie universe that reflects the Marvel universe; that though each movie is thematically linked to each other, they are not beholden to each other, and stand alone just fine as a solid film.
It took a while to get to this point. The X-Men movies were their own independant universe, as were the Spider-Man films. Daredevil, Punisher, Ghost Rider, Elektra, Blade, and the 2003 Hulk and the ironically named Fantastic Four films were also stand-alone films (in that they were largely terrible). But I like the subtle, slow-moving meta-plot involving the creation of what will eventually be the Avengers. I undersand Thor is next in the works. I've never been a fan of Thor myself (Like Iron Man, the only Thor comics I ever bought were the ones where he fought the Hulk), but it should still be a decent film, if this last pair of Marvel films were any hint.
Enough of that. You all came here for something Skeptical (probably....unless you googled Hulk and were mis-directed to my page). Firstly, thanks to everyone who acted on last weeks awful story about the mother who had to pull her autistic child out of class because a psychic told her to. I felt the need to act as strongly because it's difficult enough the kind of problems that teachers have to deal with today, can you imagine the state of affairs when a school board would be willing to launch an investigation of sexual abuse based on ZERO evidence? These sorts of things never stay private, and even when people get exonerated, the stigma somehow stays. It would be a case just like the witch-hunts of old: where someone can make the most serious accusation immaginable (sexual abuse is a VERY serious charge), provide no evidence or details therein, be utterly immune to counter-investigation because they're annonymous, and have the rest of us launched into a wild frenzy because someone screamed "SHE'S A WITCH!". It makes me sad, and I don't want my government condoning such paranoid, anti-scientific behavoir that benefits only the culture of fear that psychics tend to prey on.
So thanks to PZ Meyers, Phil Plait, Skepchick, Neat-o-Rama, Mike's Weekly Skeptic Rant, and everyone who decided that this issue must not be allowed to be swept under the rug, and sent a letter to any one of the blogs mentioned above, or to me, or to the School Board. This is what skeptical activism is all about. Contrary to popular beliefs about the word 'skeptic', we're not just a bunch of cranky people who go around trying to spoil everyone's fun. We actually do CARE about how our children are being taught, how science is viewed in both the public and educational system, and when we see some anti-scientific debacle going on, we act...out of conscienceness.
Enough of of that self-congratulatory back-patting. I went to a 'scholar's luncheon' a few months ago to congratulate people who had a 80+ average, and I saw so much patting each other on the back as we all celebrated how smart we are (there was even a speech, where the speaker said that we, the 'scholars are an example to your fellow Trent Students. You inspire them". ugh. It was then that I decided I had to leave....or impale myself on a tuna sandwich.)....so why should skeptics be allowed to pat each other on the back that much? Just to even things out: Hey, Jay! You're a dolt Thoo-see-dye-dees? Puh-Leeze! (listeners of the SGU will get that joke....and no, I don't think Jay is a dolt).
One more thing:
Yet again, Evolution has been proven in the labratory. This was a fascinating, 20-year experiment where the ecoli bacteria were given just enough glucose to survive, but not enough to thrive. They were also given loads of citrate, which is another potential source of food, but ecoli are unable to metabolize it. So here they are, barely living off of their own very meagre diet, surrounded by food that they can't eat. Sorta like being on a desert island surrounded by salt-water. After 20 YEARS and 44,000 GENERATIONS they found that after three seperate mutations, the bacteria were able to thrive on the citrate. Fascinating. Take that, Kent Hovind!
Immediately after posting this, I came across a blog that was providing a list of skeptic-blog reactions to the psychic/sex scandal. The list was bigger than I was expecting, so thanks to even MORE people!
Some Canadian Skeptic is mad.
The last time I wrote about some skeptic-stuff in Ontario, more specifically, the Georgian Bay area, it was to report on a meteor being recorded on video as it plummeted to earth. This time, a Barrie mother had to pull her autistic daughter out of school because a psychic said she was being sexually abused.
Do I need to say it? WTF is wrong with people? No, I didn't need to say that? sorry.
Kudos to the normally-hyper-reactionary Children's Aid Society for seeing this allegation for what it was, as it unapologetically treated it as a ridiculous claim, and quickly closed the case.
But it seems that the Simcoe County School Board has treated this like any other sexual abuse claim. We have reversed the position of the witch hunts: it is now the witches who need only to cry foul, where "she turned me into a newt!" has transformed into "this poor autistic child was taken advantage of!"
Well, part of that is true. The autistic child IS being taken advantage of, by leecherous true-believer psychics and scam-artists alike by using an already ill-understood and very public disease to serve their crooked, un-science means. I say 'un-science' and not the standard skeptic charge of 'pseudo-science' very deliberatley in this case: Cases like this encourage people to think unscientifically....they actively remove science from the discourse, with the end benefit being that more people believe this nonesense, and similar nonesense.
I encourage everyone who reads this to send a letter to the Simcoe County Disctrict School Board and express your outrage (if, indeed you are as remotely outraged as I am about this...I don't mean to be presumptious here)....Embarass them. It works. Encourage them to not only issue a public apology to the mother and child, but to publically acknowledge that these sorts of charges will no longer be tolerated and that it is the official position of the School Board (which is, after all, tax-payer funded) that there has been no scientific validity to ANY psychic claims, and that the psychic should be charged with public mischief and false allegations, and the mother be compensated by either the psychic or the Board for her time off of work.
Their contact information is:
Simcoe County District School Board
Phone Number is 705-728-7570
Fax number is 705-728-2265
Email is: firstname.lastname@example.org
It's bad enough that the poor child is autistic. It's even worse that the mother has to be a parent of an autistic child. And now these already beleagured people get attacked in a very public way by one of the most insulting of pseudo-sciences.
Don't let them get away with this.
I just finished sending off my letter. I hope you all do something similar. Here's what I wrote:
I was deeply saddened to see on the news story that the SCDSB did not treat the allegations of sexual abuse by the unamed psychic for what they were: nonesense and taking advantage of this poorly-understood disease.
My sister and I are both alumi of the SCDSB, and my brother still is. Together, our family has been under the school board for nearly 40 years. I find it reprehensible that the mother in question, Colleen Leduc was forced into the position she now finds herself in over such a demonstrably fallacious practice. A practice that, as a quick glance at history, is RIFE with the most underhanded tactics designed to prey on the weak, gullible, and vulnerable.
As a tax-paying citizen of Ontario, and as someone whose ties are so interwoven with in the Simcoe Country District School Board, I demand that:
1) The board issue a public apology to Colleen Leduc and her daughter, Victoria.
2) The board publically denounce the practice of psychics, and insist that psychic claims/allegations will never be taken seriously unless they are backed up by solid evidence.
3) The board publically reflect the inherent secular nature therein by announcing that it does not accept any claims of the paranormal. This is a tax-payer funded institution, and should reflect a proper respect scientific inquiry, not baseless witch-hunting.
4) Charge the psychic with making a fallacious allegation of criminal activity, and of public mischief.
5) The board or the psychic must also compensate the mother for the time off of work she has been forced into.
It's bad enough that this poor mother has been forced to raise an autistic child. It's embarassing and horrible that the board is willing to throw their two lives into utter turmoil over such a demonstrably fraudulent practice.
Jehovah's Witnesses. They came to my door the other day. Here's the story. It's long, so grab a cuppa-coffee, and enjoy.
The story actually starts back in September, where two women, both in their 40's (that shouldn't matter, but it becomes relevant later on) came to my door, provided me with a bible, and asked me a bunch of morality/spiritual questions that cannot be answered with a 'yes' or a 'no' (a tactic I recognized as a former salesman). Questions like, "what part of this passage spoke most to you?" or "what sort of things do you wonder about the afterlife?". I wasn't about to be had, and these women were not malicious, so I calmly, and politely explained that I'm an atheist, and thanks, but no-thanks. They left the bible with me anyway and a pamphlet that dealt with the JW's (Jehovah's Witnesses) perspective on a lot of general, lovey-dubby god-related hooppa-joob. You know the ones: "love thy neighbour, love thy enemy, faith is totally kew, etc, etc. After a very polite, civil and respectful conversation, they left. Then I put the bible and pamplet in a cabinet where I keep my inflatble matress, my hammer, and spare light-bulbs.
Two days ago, I had just come back from a 3-day almost no-sleep marathon full of stress and just having written a difficult test on old and middle-english (GAG!), I was about to take a nap, when I heard a knock on my door: The JW's came back. I was tired, grumpy, and in NO mood to be preached to, even though our previous exchange was a polite one, and I had no reason to expect that this was going to be hostile (it wasn't). One of the women was a different this time, much older...perhaps in her 60's. The younger woman was the one that talked the most last time, and today was much of the same. She was the mouth/brains/muscle of the pair, and the older woman was the symbolic hold-over....sort of like Michael Corleone after nephew Anthony took over in Godfather 3.
Anyway, they both started with the generalities again: the nice parts of christianity (by the way, they had never once mentioned the words Jehovah's Witnesses...perhaps because they know well the hostility against them)....it's the bait, and I was determined in my grumpy state to force their hand and reveal the switch. But then they did something rather peculiar: they mentioned Noah's Flood, and its meaning in today's world (sin, sin, sin etc..). Now, this woman (the younger one) knew my attraction to science and that I was an atheist, I found it odd that she began the conversation with one of the most crazy-unrealistic story in the entire bible. I mentioned that I know enough about geology to know that if there ever was a world-wide flood, there would be evidence of it EVERYWHERE. We could grab a shovel and dig for about 6 hours and find evidence of it ourselves. In addition, if a flood covered the world for 40 days and nights 4000 years ago, there would almost certainly not be the variety of tree-species just in Canada alone. 4000 years is nowhere near enough time to allow the world to recover from a mass-extinction. I continued teaching them about the geological, biological and meteorological impossibility of what they were proposing, so they changed their tack.
They went back to their bait again: the nice parts of faith....but I wasn't about to be taken in so easily. I said "okay, here's the money question: Evolution. What's your stance?" Their answers could have come straight out of Kent Hovind himself. You've probably heard them....I have, and I was ready. She parroted the old misconception that evolution is about advancing life. I said that evolution is about adaptation...for example, humans evolutionarily speaking, are not more advanced than chimps, but we are better suited to our environment, as chimps are to theirs...we have evolved to suit our environments. She then trotted out the argument that if you take a box filled with the component pieces of an alarm clock, and shake it up, you're not going to get an alarm clock. I said that the difference between species and alarm clocks is that clocks aren't alive, and don't reproduce: there is no mutation. The analogy doesn't work. She also trotted out the apparent flaw in evolution for failing to explain how life began. I taught her that that is like saying that the law of gravity is flawed because it doesn't explain why jalapeno peppers are hot....Evolution isn't interested in how life began: that's a different theory called 'abiogenesis' not evolution. She then, once accepting this, said that "okay, but if you ask the majority of the people out on the street what evolution is, they would say that its about the origins of life". I replied "I'm not so certain that most people think that about evolution, but even if they did, so what? Science isn't a democratic process, and if they're confusing evolution with abiogenesis, that doen't mean that evolution is wrong, it just means that we need better science education standards". The older woman (who by now I could tell wanted to get out of my apartment as she kept one hand on my door at all times) said "what is the benefit of believing in evolution?" I replied that 1) it's not a matter of believing in evolution. Evolution is established, and that its a matter of accepting it. 2) It doesn't matter if one believes in evolution....it's reality. I don't care if it fits my moral paradigm or not: I want to see reality the way it is. 3) If you need to see one tangible benefit, I mentioned biology, and more specifically, medicine. Animal testing of medicine works on the presumption that humans and animals are biologically linked: that when something works on a rat, it works on a human because of similar biological processes. Her (the older woman still) reply, after a looooong pause, was "Is that all? Just medicine?" JUST medicine? "That's a pretty big benefit as far as I'm concerned" I replied. Evolution literally SAVES lives.
They changed their tack.
They noticed a telescope in my apartment, and began to ask about the stars, planets, and all of 'the heavens above' as being part of god's glorious creation. She (the younger woman) mentioned the Big Bang theory, and that believing that all of the universe being condensed into a single point and exploding into space takes as much faith in science as a religious person having faith in god. I knew where this was going, and she didn't disapoint. It's the old "science is just another religion" argument. She kept on me that everything I know about science is based on faith in scientific authority: textbooks, scientists and teachers in high school, and that is functionally no different than religion. I had to teach her: "No. The difference is that when I open the textbook and learn about Newton's laws of physics, or Einstein's General Relativity, or Darwin's evolution, I can test them myself, and I will get the same result. It's the difference between Science (with a capital S: the scientific community) and science (meaning, the method of science). In the scope of this conversation, I don't care about the scientific community if I can't test their theories myself, and I can. As Sagan pointed out, "science delivers the goods"....he wasn't talking about scientists, he was talking about methodology. Saying "god did it" is not a testable claim, so it requires nothing BUT faith. The two are COMPLETLEY oppsite ideas.
By now, the eyes of both women were starting to look glazed over. I've encountered this before: When a devoutly religious person encounters someone who thoughtfully disagrees with their religion, they can get REALLY upset, even to the point of tears. I've always wondered if this was borne out of them crying in sadness for me, or for their questioning their own faith for the first time when being presented with arguments that they have never considered before? I wasn't being mean, disrespectful or insulting. I just know too much about science and reality to allow their silly, archaic superstitions to make me forget what I've learned.
I forget how we got to this point, but politics came up (if there was any area where I could call my expertise, politics is definitley it), and she said "Canada is basically a communist country" WHAAAAAA???? Are you frakkin serious? I gave her a quick introduction course on communism and socialism, and explained how holy-crap-no-we're-not-communist, as well as how the government has been eroding social programs and social spending, and that I could show her the statistics that prove this (such as the disproportionate tax-burden placed on the poor verses the mega-wealthy, the supreme court decisions that favour business interests over civilians). She wouldn't accept this....after all, why have something as silly as evidence change her mind?
I was tired of this, so I called her out: "what is your opinion on blood transfusions?" I know already that JW's have an ideological opposition to blood transfusions, and that some JW's are trying to change the church's mind, to allow them. I wanted to know their particular stance. They were against them. I mentioned that I can't accept that. Blood transfusions save lives....including my own. Not getting them ends lives. She mentioned, as an example, that luekemia is almost certianly fatal. Yeah, they're fatal if you don't get blood transfusions! Leukemia actually has a very low mortality rate with proper medical treatment....which includes blood transfusions! This part of their chuch both saddened and infuriated me. I had the final evidence I needed: this church is bad for my health, and I'll have none of it.
Anyway, before leaving (semi teary-eyed), she asked if she should come back. "not until august" I replied. We'll see.
Thanks for reading!
Once gain, this is not a skeptical entry. I just gotta get a few more things off my chest.
As an update to my entry yesterday, I heard something truly remarkable on the news coverage from monday's reaction to the conservative attack ads. Whereas the news outlets and political parties continued to focus on the partizanship (and all the gruesome details that lie therein), it was, of all people, the advertising agency that essentially agreed with my points, citing that they refuse to display the animated attack ad at their pumps because, get this, it's "too political"!
What kind of messed-up world do we live in where the advertising agency represents the voice of sanity, as opposed to our elected officials, or our trusted independant news media? I don't know what company it was, but I applaud their rare display of tact in this case.
The Liberals failed us because they were in their usual knee-jerk mode, defending their as-yet-unreleased plan. The Conservatives failed us for trying to pull this crap in the first place, and continuing their childish attacks in Parliament yesterday. The NDP failed us because they sat silent in the face of such an insult, no doubt delighting in the two major parties devouring each other. The news-outlets failed us because they utterly failed to see the larger impact of advertising encroachment into areas already full of shame and consumer guilt, and instead decided to run, and re-run the ads in some grandiose display of 'look-how-aggressive-the- conservatives-are-now!'.
In a COMPLETLEY different vain, just some friendly advice/plea to everyone who has friends who play an instrument: just because someone close to you plays the guitar, and you know another person who also plays the guitar, that's no reason to force them together in some wierd musician play-date and expect Dueling Banjos. I understand that you think very highly of their musical talent, and I appreciate the gesture, I truly do. But if I, and whoever else is indeed as good at playing guitar as you build us up to be, the overwhelming odds are that the two people have very little common musical ground. One person might be a country-player, the other a metal-head. One may be a blues-man, the other a 90's grunge player. The point is, its awkward for the musicians you've cut-and-pasted like musical clipart, and no one will have a good time. Let the musicians talk themselves first....If there are two blues-players, great.
In my 4+ years in Peterborough, I've lost count of the musicians people put me with, and not a SINGLE one knew the 12-bar blues, and the vast majority knew how to communicate what key they were even playing. That's frustrating to me. In playing music that is not written, these two factors are basic prerequisites before you go out there and start sharing your craft. Instead, I got countless metal and indie-rock cover tunes played in god-knows-what-key (until I figured it out...and TOLD them) with no consistancy. Don't "shread" some Anthrax tune on an acoustic guitar and look at me like I'm the old fossil who can't keep up. Learn a frakkin chord progession, learn some BASIC music theory, and then come back to me.....we'll so a 1-5-6-4 turnaround in a key of your choice. Until you know what that means, don't waste my time.
And yes.....I CAN play lead.....ya jerk-off. (That was a colossal inside-joke)
Warning: political, non-skeptical entry below. If you're conservative, you might not want to read. Actually, if you're a conservative that's an even better reason to read!
A disturbing news story today. Apparently, the Conservative Party of Canada is about to launch a series of liberal-attack ads to be shown at gas-pumps across the country. The idea is to link Stephane Dion and the Liberals with 'big oil', implying that the Liberals' carbon-tax policy will result in an increase of costs at the gas-pumps.
Just a few quick appetizers before I introduce the main course: 1) The liberals haven't even released their policy yet! The conservatives are portraying a new level of cowardly behaviour by flat-out making shit up! 2) This attack ad is coming from the same party that made fun of Jean Cretien's physical apperance in 1993, and in 2005-6, launched a huge campaign of vilification against Paul Martin that basically made him look like Darth Vader (complete with oiminous danger-music, black-and-white stills with quick zooms....very distasteful ads that I would expect to see the Republicans launch against John Kerry). The Conservative are by FAR the worst offenders for long-term, constant attack ads that lie, imply, conflate, and distort, all the while using not-so-subtle rhetorical filmmaking that would make Oscar Welles roll over in his grave with the techniques that have been stollen for such childish purposes. 3)Attack ads work well in the United States, and have had mixed reaction up here. It's hard to imagine that the conservatives would think this would work as well as they're hoping, and not just have it blow-up in their face.
But here's what REALLY pisses me off. It's not the blatant lying, manipulation, and childish american-style politics that bothers me as much. It's the news coverage. This might betray a little Naomi Klein influence here, but what bothered me the most was that the news focused on the points I mentioned above, and not the encroaching nature of advertising. I've written before about this: Ads are freaking everywhere. I'm not so Naomi Klein-ish to imply that if something is within my line of sight, that there is some sort of proprietory relationship that I think its morally wrong to see a billboard on the side of some wall, but it's especially insulting to see, of all things, a POLITICAL ATTACK AD at the gas pump. This is the great-equalizer among all car-owners that screws us all. We're already getting bent over a barrell (pun intended) every time we pay ever-increasing amounts of money for a highly neccesary product, the last thing I want to see at the pump, EVER, is some bullshit party trying to pander for votes and political support. I don't neccesarily like it when I see adds for coke, snickers or doritos, but at least its within its own realm: consumerism.
As far as I'm concerned, political attack ads that use scare-tactics and lies have no business trying to convert people on ANY Canadian media-outlet. If you want me to vote for you, convince me that you're the better party, don't make shit up and try to scare the bejeezus outta me. But the idea that these repugnant displays of childish partisanship will rear their ugly heads at a place that I'm already ashamed that I rely on as much as I do, makes me more furious than I've been at my politcal system, and more depressed with the way that politics in this country is heading, ie: american-style.
I promise you, if I see one of these ads while I'm paying $1.30/litre, I WILL deface/break one.
By now, most of you have probably heard about the recent bombings of the Danish Embassy in Pakistan, the latest in a string of retalatory strikes against all things Danish over a silly (albeit in bad-taste) cartoon that was published, and later re-printed in defiance of violence.
For me, I'm about as sick as I can get of the post-modern cultural relativists out there exclaiming to those of us that stand up for free speech that it is we who are the insensitive ones who hold no respect and consideration for an entire people and their most sacred laws.
First: The law prohibiting the depiction of mohammed is for muslims....not the rest of us. There's a word for one religion enforcing its laws on other people through violence and the threat of violence: oppression and terrorism. I'm not muslim, christian, or jewish, and I can break whatever archaic rules you set up for yourselves as I want to.
Second: I find it terribly hypocritical that those of us on this side of rationality/free speech are being scolded for being disrespectful, by people who are essentially asserting that violence, assasination, riots and firebombing is the logical consequence of these muslims being laughed at. I say it is YOU who have no respect for these people, if you're the one jumping to the conclusion that these people are so backwards that they can't handle a (bad) joke that once they see it, the first thing they're going to do is grab their AK-47's. Give them a little credit, sheesh!
Third: Within various muslim countries, Iit has been open season on the Jews for centuries. Even in the last 5 years, one doesn't have to look very far to see islamic newspapers portraying jews in every nasty situation immaginable (I even saw one portraying a Jew wearing a Nazi uniform....figure that one out!). Before you start defendning people as being innocent, pure victims with clean hands, open one of their papers and compare the 'mohammed-with-a-bomb-on-his-head' cartoon with just about anything portraying jesus, or the jews, then come back and tell me which is more offensive.
The Danish cartoonists, reporters, and government are among the bravest people in the journalistic world right now, because they are literally risking their lives simply because they know that they have the right to say what they want, how they want. The first time the cartoons were printed it was simply a bad judgement call....but no cartoon, I don't care how offensive one religion finds it to be, is worth starting a riot, setting fires, or killing over. The second time they were printed, it was done so because they have the right to.
Freedom of speech is THE CENTRAL point of civilization in a democracy. If you can't handle the freedom of speech that allows barbaric pricks to spew your horrendous anti-semite hate-speech, don't set off fires, kill people, and threaten others to do as you say or you'll kill them too: just get the hell out of our civilized society and get your ass back to your caliphate.
And I'm saying this, because I can.