Category Archives: religion

priests, castes, laiety; angels, demons, heavenly hierarchies; the damned, the elect — with so many made-up categories everyone can have one. It’s psychological warfare at its finest.

“Expelled” music licensed or not?

Josh Timonen wrote a detailed synopsis of the movie “Expelled”, the creationist film that tries to argue that creationist views are “unfairly” excluded from the academy.

What piqued my interest about this particular post (there have been hundreds by now about how bad the movie is, the deceptiveness of the filmmakers, P.Z. Myers’ being prevented from attending, the NCSE’s excellent “Expelled, Exposed” website, and so on) was that Timonen noted the proliferation of popular commercial music, including John Lennon’s “Imagine”, and a song from “The Killers”; maybe others. Timonen says:

Either Expelled has a disproportionately-large music budget (for how bad of a film it is), or they are using songs they haven’t paid for in their Director’s Cut private screenings (that may be changed before the official nationwide release). John Lennon’s “Imagine” is played (original version) over B&W scenes of what looked like communist China, with a parade of soldiers. The lyrics to the song were subtitled on the bottom of the screen. I think I remember a shot of Stalin saluting somewhere in here as well. The part of the song played was of course “…and no religion too…”, implying that no religion equals communist China. Does Yoko know about this? I doubt she’d be pleased.

The excellent “Mad Hot Ballroom Dancing” got dinged for a lot of money for a lot less music use than this. Could the Expelled filmmakers really not have known they needed to license music? Did they have a giant music budget? Are they relying on fair use? Maybe one could make a fair use case for using “Imagine” to illustrate communist China, although it seems a bit of a stretch to me since the point of the film isn’t China or John Lennon, or even atheism per se.

I’ll be interested to see what happens when it’s officially released. Same music? And what’s the story with the licensing? Does Yoko Ono not control the Lennon estate? Would she really license the music for that purpose? Questions, questions.

Supposedly, the film also includes animations of cellular functions. There have been lots of such animations made in the last few years. P.Z. Myers of Pharyngula described one such animation out of Harvard and XVIVO being edited and used without in creationist lecture tours. What’s the licensing on these, I wonder? Studio Daily describes the animation process and says they can’t provide it, because it belongs to Harvard & XVIVO; there’s a version at Harvard’s MCB website. These were funded by the HHMI and the licensing notes the copyright to Robert Lue & Alain Viel, Harvard University, and says “For educational use only. The use, duplication, or distribution of this material for any commercial purpose is strictly prohibited.” Well, creationist lectures are arguably “educational”, at least in the broadest possible sense, but editing it to create a derivative work — that seems a bit different.

parents pray; kid dies

These Wisconsin parents prayed while their kid lapsed into a diabetic coma and died. So, Madeline Neumann was born to parents who let her die only eleven years later. Her parents think she may be resurrected yet.

I usually think of religion as inherently funny, but it’s also stupidity, and stupidity is dangerous and not particularly funny.

link from pharyngula

atheist’s creed

i like this atheist’s creed pretty well. it was posted at pharyngula and i suspect that pz myers wrote it.

An atheist’s creed

I believe in time,
matter, and energy,
which make up the whole of the world.

I believe in reason, evidence and the human mind,
the only tools we have;
they are the product of natural forces
in a majestic but impersonal universe,
grander and richer than we can imagine,
a source of endless opportunities for discovery.

I believe in the power of doubt;
I do not seek out reassurances,
but embrace the question,
and strive to challenge my own beliefs.v

I accept human mortality.

We have but one life,
brief and full of struggle,
leavened with love and community,
learning and exploration,
beauty and the creation of
new life, new art, and new ideas.

I rejoice in this life that I have,
and in the grandeur of a world that preceded me,
and an earth that will abide without me.

The post was in response to a sad illustration by someone who thinks that atheists are sad people and that atheism is depressing. In response, Myers titled his post: “Actually, it’s theists who believe in nothing, quite fervently”, which is a nice point that unfortunately didn’t get followed up on in the post itself. But it’s such an elegantly expressed truth: Theists believe in non-existent things, or no-things; theists believe in nothing, and that belief in nothing crowds out so much of what there is in the world.

stupid religious tricks

Full Moon Investigations, a Scottish “paranormal group”, is trying to get their government to “pardon” people convicted under Scotland’s anti-witchcraft laws. These include Helen Duncan, a Scottish woman imprisoned in 1944 for conducting a séance in which she revealed information about the progress of the war (a sunken battleship) that the government had decided to keep secret.

I’m all in favor of eliminating state imprisonment for fake crimes, like practicing religion or pretending to practice religion. But what is a “paranormal group”? Do they investigate paranormal phenomena? This is very curious.

Also, how did the Scottish medium know that the battleship was sunk? Did she continue to claim that she knew it through her paranormal practice? Did she have a contact with the Scottish military? Did she happen to have personal experience? Or did she just guess it, getting it right through the law of averages?

BBC 2/28; Scott Horton at Harper’s, 2/29; and BoingBoing 3/3

death by religion, part # in-the-hundreds-of-millions

I haven’t heard any recent updates about Fawza Falih Muhammad Ali, the woman sentenced to death for witchcraft. A Saudi Arabian court issued the death penalty in 2005 for a woman who allegedly made a man impotent, through witchcraft, among other sins. According to Human Rights Watch, she was beaten until she signed (by placing her fingerprints) a confession to witchcraft — a confession she couldn’t even read, because she’s illiterate.

Now, there are some bass-ackwards-ass judges in every country, and you might think maybe she got a one-off nutter. Or, that the “modernizing” country of Saudi Arabia might let this go on at the lower levels of its “courts” but surely they step in and right this kind of wrong at the appellate level. Right? Of course, you’d be wrong, because although her case was heard by an appeal court, their decision was reversed by another court, which felt that her witchcraft was such a serious sin that her death would be in the public interest. Witchcraft that causes impotence — what could be more of a threat to the public safety than that?

It is truly astonishing to me that religion apologists tote up the supposed benefits of belief in their faith against this kind of obscenity. “I feel better because I fantasize about seeing my dead relatives when I die” versus “killing an innocent woman for a vicious, sexist delusion” (multiplied times millions, because let’s not forget the Inquisition, 9/11, the Troubles in Ireland, and all the other deaths attributable directly towards religious delusions) — yeah, that’s Creationist Math, all right.

Further reading:
* Human Rights Watch, Feb. 14, 2008
* HRW Letter to King Abdullah, Feb. 13, 2008
* Heba Saleh, BBC News, Feb. 14, 2008
* Lester Haines, The Register, Feb. 14, 2008

on the sexiness of testosterone and unquestioned assumptions

Last weekend I was listening to a program on “Testosterone” on “This American Life” (archive) and, predictably, my interest in the topic was equaled or surpassed by my exasperation and annoyance at its handling. “This American Life” is a one-hour show, that aims to do something rather cool: Shed some light on a topic by telling several different stories related to the topic. But at the end of this nuanced hour, all I wanted to do at the end of it is say, “Jesus, it’s more complicated than that.”

First of all, on some level, the mere existence of a show on this topic annoyed me. Testosterone is just so over-exposed. Testosterone is a sexy hormone, and by that, I don’t mean that it is a sex hormone or that it is responsible for the sex drive. I mean that people love talking about it, thinking about it, writing about it, and attributing all sorts of amazing qualities to it.

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The Republican Shuffle

Following hot on the heels (ahem) of Larry Craig, another Republican politician got caught seeking a little bathroom action, leading to more denials and resignations etc. My partner Michele has dubbed this “the Republican shuffle”. (She’s good with naming things. You should see some of her reagent names. <g>)

For the past few weeks I’ve been trying to just jot down sex scandals of hypocrites. They’re coming fast & furious and this is just what I can remember or noted in the past few weeks.

2007 ongoing – the DC Madam Scandal. Madam Deborah Jeane Palfrey clients include:
* David Vitter (Republican Sen. from Louisiana) – dressed in diapers !!!
* Randall Tobias (Republican official; “AIDS czar”; administrator of US Agency for International Development) – resigned April 27, 2007

February:
* Feb. 27: Zachary Daubenmire, son of David Daubenmire (founder of “Pass the Salt Ministries” and “Minutemen United”) convicted of possession of child porn. [
Columbus Dispatch
, Feb. 27, 2007.]

June:
* Gary Aldridge, Baptist minister in Montgomery, Alabama, died of “accidental mechanical asphyxia” — he “was found hogtied and wearing two complete wet suits, including a face mask, diving gloves and slippers, rubberized underwear, and a head mask, according to an autopsy report. Investigators determined that Rev. Gary Aldridge’s death was not caused by foul play and that the 51-year-old pastor of Montgomery’s Thorington Road Baptist Church …” [Dead Reverend’s Rubber Fetish, Smoking Gun]

July:
* Glenn Murphy: Head of Young Republican National Federation; Republican county chairman from Indiana; sexually assaulted another (male) [YR 2007/7/29]
* Tommy Tester, Virginia Southern Baptist minister, caught urinating in front of children at a car wash, with an open bottle of vodka & empty oxycodone bottles in his car. [WBIR 7/31]

August & ongoing:
* Larry Craig – US Senator and Mitt Romney campaign exec caught seeking some glory-hole action.

October:
* Joey DiFatta, running for state office in Louisiana, also caught toe-tapping in a public restroom [nola blog]
* Oral Roberts University president forced to resign – Richard Roberts’ wife Lindsay was accused of having sexual relations w/ a 16yo boy; Richard was accused of mismanaging funds to lead an extravagant lifestyle [NYT 10/18]
* Donald Fleischman, 37yo Republican Chairman of Brown County, Wisconsin, faces criminal charges for fondling a 16yo boy & plying him with beer & pot. [Green Bay Press Gazette]
* Richard Mellon Scaife, right-wing mega-magnate & bankroller of hate politics, has to get a divorce after his wife caught him frolicking with hookers. [pharyngula 10/22]

November:
* Jehovah’s Witnesses settles NINE lawsuits over child sex abuse by multiple J-dub pastors. These were covered up by the J-dub hierarchy. Abusers include: Frederick McLean, a church administrator (“ministerial servant”); James Henderson, a J-dub “elder” and “Presiding Overseer”, whose abuses were known by the church and other elders; Alvin Heard, another member who was “disfellowshipped” from one church but, with full knowledge, admitted to other churches where he molested again; Larry Kelley, a children’s entertainer in Texas; Timothy Silva, who taught “adolescent book studies” at a J-dub congregation in California even after the church knew of his problem; and three others — eight total alleged abusers whose misdeeds were enabled by Jehovah’s Witness official-dom. [msnbc 11/21]

Also in 2007:
* Brand-spanking-new creationist museum: one of the video spokespeople turned out to have been a porn star
* Bob Allen: Republican Florida legislator solicited undercover cop for blow-job

2008:
* In Christian school founder extorts sex from student’s parent – Here we have someone who is unusually ethical compared to many of these people: Instead of trying to extort sex from children, LaVern Jordan, founder and “spiritual backbone” of the Parkway Christian School, simply tried to extort sex from their parents. He told one mom that he wanted to fuck her, and thought for waiving the fee of $300/week that he should get to do that “several times”. He later offered to give her child credit for classes he had failed, again tying it to sex.

I know I missed a lot. But seriously. What is wrong with these people? Lying, hurting other people, hurting themselves — why? Because their morality is founded on irrationality or politics or both, and not on simple, obvious ethical points like do no harm to others, sub-clauses consensuality and honesty.

Christian freaks.

framing & being out

PZ Myers has been fulminating about framing a lot lately, mostly in reaction to Chris Mooney & a few others’ ideas that we have to “frame” science and atheism better in order to win people to our cause. I don’t exactly disagree, because I’ve been tired of framing ever since the 2004 post-election dissections cited and interviewed poor George Lakoff ad nauseum.

Right now some people’s favorite targets are the “new atheists” (and I have to point out that atheist anger and bitterness is not new. Atheism has always been angry at theistic stupidity, unreason, and violence.), particularly Richard Dawkins. Before Dawkins it was Michael Moore. Feminists have frequently been in the hot seat, particularly with regard to abortion rights. Apparently, when some wonderfully strident person stakes out a position on any controversial issue, it is their lot to be attacked by their fellow travelers. (Heck, even the non-strident who have been PR-ing for decades get told how to “frame”: Matthew Nisbet just castigated Al freakin’ Gore mis-framing global climate change. Chris Clarke thinks Nisbet is nuts and I gotta agree.) I find these public lectures to people who are working their asses off to speak their minds to be tedious at best. If Nisbet thinks Gore has gotten the science wrong in some particular, I’d prefer him to write and publicize his own message; not waste ink on freakin’ advice about framing, because, frankly, I think Gore can pay for any such advice that he wants.

However, the latest rounds of commentary got me thinking about framing and being out. Of course, “framing” critiques can be seen as just more movement in-fighting. “Welcome to The Movement! Watch out for friendly fire.” Framing advocates don’t mean it in that way, of course. They’re honestly talking about framing as a way to get people to strategize and coordinate.

But even this kind intention is really an attempt to corral and control the message. There’s no question that this kind of strategic thinking is useful in tight, targeted, PR campaigns from a single organization with a relatively discrete, unified message to convey. Like the Republican Party for the last few years for instance.

But in a movement it doesn’t work, and First Amendment and information theories help tell us why. A social movement is a big, unwieldy, mass of many thoughts and voices, largely tending in the same direction as a crowd but with many ebbs and flows and individual eddies and various tendencies in this or that way. The sum total of the movement ends up being determined by a “wisdom of the crowd” kind of way.

“Framing” is an attempt to distill those mass voices into a single voice. It’s top-down, PR professional driven. It’s the opposite of bottom-up, grassroots, wisdom of the crowds. It’s the opposite of the information marketplace — that First Amendment theory that proposes that the best solution to bad information is not censorship, but more information. In a marketplace filled with good and bad information, all accessible, over time the good information floats to the top. Through the wisdom of crowds, so long as there is no censorship (a market failure in the information marketplace).

So when I hear folks advocating framing, I think: They’re spending a lot of time on tactics and advising the movement, which is their choice. But it would be better to just encourage more folks to speak their piece, no matter what they have to say. The more people who are out about being an atheist — whether they’re angry like Greta Christina, or accommodationist like Chris Mooney — the better. Don’t strategize. Just speak. Tell your story. As the Christians say, Witness.

Because the more atheists talk, the more conversations there are about vital issues, the more people engage in thinking and sifting and responding. And if any angry atheist provokes a moderate Christian-loving atheist to say their piece, great. And if that Christian-loving atheist provokes an angry agnostic to speak out, even better. And if that angry agnostic provokes a confused and questioning theist to start talking, we’ve won. Because this battle is only going to be won when everybody, everywhere, is talking and thinking about these issues, and hearing a multitude of voices, and making up their own minds. With lots of evidence and information in front of them.

reading today: imprecatory prayer & native iphone apps

I’ve been following the news about Wiley Drake and if you haven’t, you should too. Drake endorsed a Republican candidate (Huckabee, whose campaign has distanced itself from Drake) using church stationery and resources, and Americans United for Separation of Church and State did what it does in such situations — call for an investigation of the church’s tax-exempt status. When Wiley found out he called for his followers to engage in “imprecatory prayer”, calling for the death of various Americans United officials. Sweet. Of course, AU officials might not take it so lightly, since AU is comprised not so much of the godless like myself, as of the god-ridden (albeit of the liberal or classically US founding fathers variety). I doubt AU folks are very worried that God(s) will take Drake seriously, but it’s gotta feel a little unnerving and upsetting. Like when you complain to your boss about a coworker and then the coworker one-ups you and complains to the boss’s boss about you, and asks that you be cursed, smited, and fired, and that your kids be cursed, too.

And, Eli Jacobwitz posted about native apps for the iphone. I confess that when I first clicked-through I thought it was going to be, I don’t know, a rolodex of tribal council members, or maybe a Cherokee-language something, or a — well, you get the idea. I surrender my geek creds for that but I haven’t been reading much geek news lately. Of course, the article was about an little-n native app, but it has some good links & opinion about the wisdom of Apple’s keeping the iPhone closed.

religious in Turkey block wordpress.com

Pharyngula said it well: “Turkish ass shuts down a slice of the Internet” (well, as far as Turkey is concerned, anyway). Muslim creationist was unhappy with some critical blog commentary so he got a judge to block the entire domain.

Best comment from Pharyngula thread:

Wonder Twin powers activate. Form of A Google Bomb

atheist outreach and hypocrite hilarity

check out this awesome overpass/sidewalk art at yonkis.com — you have to scroll all the way to the right, and it’s not a flip photo so do it slowly enough to notice the homo sapiens-like creatures … at the shortest point of the wall, at about the 75% mark (L-to-R).

The pointer came from pharyngula, where they’ve also been discussing atheist outreach. Elsewhere in the blogosphere people have been wondering if posting flyers on cars in church parking lots is a good way to reach out to the faithful (the “parking lot challenge”) and what kinds of flyers would be good. I posted some of my thoughts in a comment, but to sum up: (a) flyers can come in all kinds of different information, and if you’re willing for 90% or more to be thrown away you could save the life or sanity of some unhappy teenager who *wants* rationality but doesn’t know how to find it; (b) lots of other places are good to pass out tidbits of reason: bus and train ads, newspaper inserts, inserts in bookstore books, hotel bibles; (c) anybody ever do “you’re welcome for the good deed” card?; and (d) what do you say when someone says “god bless you” and you want to be polite and friendly and brief, but corrective?

… And speaking of religious people: The “abstinence-only” promoter in the Bush Administration’s foreign aid department (aka the “AIDS czar”) resigned in embarrassment after getting caught on DC madam Jeane Palfrey’s list of prominent johns. (See WPost 4/28 and ABC 4/27.) Ha ha. Oh, my anger at BS thinly-veiled with sanctimony is rarely so well matched by my pleasure at hypocrisy revealed. My cup runneth over, but I tell you — the Bush administration has produced so many of these kinds of things that it’s kinda hard to keep up.

I anticipate many more such juicy stories once her client list (which is in the hands of prosecutors and ABC?) is published, and we know more names of people who sought “massage and sexual fantasy from college-educated women”. The irony of the abstinence-only AIDS czar being one of the first to go is rich though. It is Good to start the day with hypocrites brought low. I am in a happy, happy mood.

shaolin trademarks and copyright as generic for IP

In an SFgate story about conflicts between folks trying to take Shaolin practice in different directions, I spotted this:

In recent years, the main temple’s abbot, Shi YongXin, has tried to copyright the Shaolin name. He’s also been criticized for commercializing the faith. YongXin gave his approval to Ho’s venture in San Francisco.

Really? I thought. Tried to copyright the name? Surely they mean trademark …. A little googling found this China Daily article from a couple of years ago (2004/9/28). I quote in its entirety because virtually every single paragraph illustrates the wacky confusion:

Shaolin monks in hand-to-hand copyright battle
Updated: 2004-09-28 09:53

The monks of China’s Shaolin temple are not just good at kung fu but also increasingly agile at using copyright rules to protect their name from rip-offs, state media reported.

The 1,500 year-old temple, known as the cradle of China’s martial arts, recently set up the Henan Shaolin Temple Industrial Development Co., whose main purpose is to protect the temple’s intellectual property rights, Xinhua news agency said.

“Everyone just wants to make some profits from the name, totally regardless of the integral image of Shaolin Temple,” Shaolin abbot Shi Yongxin told the agency.

More than 1,000 brands containing “Shaolin” have been registered without the approval of the temple in the United States, Japan and Europe, Shi said.

Since its start, the new company has been engaged in feverish activity, registering nearly 100 Shaolin-related brands in China and has applied to register “Shaolin” brands in over 100 countries, Xinhua said.

A survey by the China Trademark and Patent Law Office found that many countries were competing to register their own trademarks of Shaolin or Shaolin temple, state media reported previously.

On the west coast of the United States alone, there are three Shaolin temples. In Europe, Shaolin temples can be found in Vienna and Budapest.

with a photo captioned:

A young monk of China’s Shaolin temple demonstrating his skills. The monks have increasingly been using copyright rules to protect their name from rip-offs. [AFP]

Further reading–it looks like this story has flurried every couple of years, 2002, 2004, 2006:
* The People’s Daily from 2002/9/25 had more information about the beginning of the trademark wars.
* The USA Today picked up the story around the same time.
* The BBC News on 2004/6/29
* 2004/6/2 a story at p2pnet.net
* Another 2006 piece from China Shaolin Temple itself gives their perspective.
* China Daily, 2006/10/19 had this insightful history:

Back in 1993, Shi Yongxin took a ham manufacturer to court for promoting the ham under the brand “Shaolin,” which he claimed constituted a trademark infringement. It was the first case on brand rights in China’s religious circles.

Recalling the lawsuit, Shi said, “a long time ago, communication and transportation were not as convenient as today, and products were circulated in a limited area, so trademark registration was not required. With globalization comes infringement. To protect the trademark, we have to register the brand ‘Shaolin.’ The registration is totally protective. ”

However, the Shaolin Temple brand is being taken advantage of by other businessmen. About 200 meters north of the temple, the local tourist bureau has built the Shaolin Temple Martial Arts School, and right across from that is a Zen institute that is backed by a salt company.

Many suspect such commercial aspirations will disturb the tranquility of the temple. Shi, however, believed such establishment is a result of the interplay between business and brand, likening Shaolin Temple to the American Disneyland, which is a brand as well as a business.

* Kung Fu Magazine had an interview with Shi Yongxin, Abbot of Shaolin temple:

GC: How is trademarking the name of Shaolin going?
Abbot: Recently, some businessmen and companies had been engaging in using the Shaolin name to further their product. This influenced the image of Shaolin culture in a negative way. Now Shaolin Temple is attending to this matter. Abuse of the Shaolin trademark will diminish the influence of Shaolin Temple and create misunderstandings of Shaolin in the public eye. Shaolin represents the best of traditional Chinese art in kung fu and Chan Buddhism. As we know, some products and services provided by these companies were outlawed by the rules of Buddhism. So we have begun to administrate the trademark of Shaolin, not for the sake of profit, just for the sake of preserving our culture and religion.

… This was an interesting search in its own right, but a couple of observations:
* You know, it’s not so easy to google for something + copyright, because every frickin’ thing on the Internet says “blah blah blah COPYRIGHT date by yadda yadda yadda”.
* This isn’t the first time I’ve noticed “copyright” being used synonymously for “intellectual property”. It’s as if the copyright trademark is itself being diluted.

* Every article has its own copyright date and they’re apparently being put in almost at random as part of website templates in some cases, the article in other cases, etc. For instance the 2002 USA Today article, which I found on 2007/4/29, had a “Copyright 2005 the Associated Press”. The Kung Fu Magazine article didn’t have a date on the article or on its copyright statement, but had an automatically generated “today’s date” in the header — so one might mistakenly read the article and think it was today. This is a problem for citations, of course, but it’s also a problem for orphan works issues in the far future. So if the dates on the works themselves are practically meaningless, then how is the future historian going to be able to tell when the 95-year corporate copyright term has expired? If we’re all relying on the overworked Internet Archive as our de facto copyright database then someone needs to give them like a bajillion dollars in a hurry so they can capture the whole Internet and do it every day.

getting my atheist on

Last week, I was told that I have a “god-shaped hole in my heart.” … I think I’d prefer to phrase it as he has a god-shaped figment jammed crosswise in his brain.

P.Z. Myers, Pharyngula, 2006/10/27, “A godless ramble against the ditherings of theologians

The last couple of years I’ve been pleased to see an outbreak of out-and-out criticism of religion, not just for the bad things religious folks do in the name of religion, but for the silliness and harmfulness of religion itself.

For me, the charge has been led by Richard Dawkins (most recently, The God Delusion), Sam Harris (The End of Faith), and P.Z. Myers (Pharyngula). Dawkins, Harris and Myers aren’t truly leading a charge; they’re surfing the zeitgeist. A lot of folks are ticked off about religion, but until lately, one would rarely hear us talk about it. Despite the stereotype of the proselytizing atheist, most of us don’t bother. (If only the religious folks of the world would just stop flaunting their lifestyle.)

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Who doesn’t care about political hypocrisy

Joe Conason at Salon explains why the leaders of the religious right don’t care that Republican Christian nationalists are hypocrites, and predicts that they’ll be ba-a-ack:

The leaders of the religious right don’t care whether White House hacks love them or laugh at them, because they see themselves as the users, not the used. Winning power in the Republican Party represents the work of more than two decades for Robertson, Falwell, Dobson, their ultraright comrades and the new leaders, such as Tony Perkins and Rod Parsley, who will eventually succeed them. Their radical goal is an America under the dominion of men like themselves, and the Republican Party will continue to be the most plausible vehicle for their movement. They may lose ground this year — but they will most certainly be back with renewed determination in 2008.

Kent “Dino” Hovind arrested on tax fraud

Despite being firmly warned to not post on blogs this week but to focus on my deadline, I found this too delicious to not post:

On July 13, 2006, Kent Hovind was arrested and indicted in federal court on 58 charges. Of the charges filed, there is one count of corruptly endeavoring to obstruct and impede the due administration of the internal revenue laws, including falsifying bankruptcy documents, filing a false and frivolous lawsuit and complaints against the IRS, destroying records, and threatening to harm IRS investigators. 12 of the charges are for failing to pay employee-related taxes, totaling $473,818, and 45 charges of evading reporting requirements by making multiple cash withdrawals just under the $10,000 reporting requirement (smurfing). The withdrawals, totaling $430,500, were placed in 2001 and 2002.

Hovind has maintained his innocence. “I still don’t understand what I’m being charged for and who is charging me,” he said. [23] Magistrate Miles Davis asked Hovind if he wrote and spoke English, to which Hovind responded “To some degree”. Davis replied that the government adequately explained the allegations and the defendant understands the charges “whether you want to admit it or not.”[24] A September 5 trial date has been set for Kent Hovind and his co-defendant wife, Jo, who faces 44 charges. Hovind stated that he did not recognize the government’s right to try him on tax-fraud charges and entered a not guilty plea “under duress” when the judge offered to enter a plea for him.[25]

Alas it’s a forward of a forward so I don’t have the original cite. (update: apparently it’s from the latest updates to the wikipedia entry on Hovind)

crossposted @ sivacracy

tacky but lawful derivative liberty

Statue of Liberation Through Christ; photo by Rollin Riggs

A fundamentalist mega-church in Memphis has repurposed the Statute of Liberty. [7/5 nyt] Lucky for them the Statue is in the public domain. Shake your head at its awfulness at thestatueofliberationthroughchrist.org. Christian nationalism, indeed.

Maybe someone should remind them that the Statue’s French.