March 2006 Archives

March 31, 2006

Can I get change of use permission?

A small purple bunny has alerted me to the fact that Google Local has a most interesting idea of both where Prattle Towers is located, and what it is.

March 25, 2006

Work of literature not banned by US school board

United States: In a surprising decision, given recent events, a school board in San Antonio, Texas, has decided not to ban Margaret Atwood's 1985 classic The Handmaid's Tale. Superintendent Ed Lyman had banned the book from the advanced English curriculum, but the school board overturned the decision.

If we do ban The Handmaid's Tale because of sexual content, then why not ban Huckleberry Finn for racism? Why not ban The Crucible for witchcraft? Why not ban The Things They Carried for violence, and why not ban the Bible and argue separation of church and state? Judson senior Craig Gagne told trustees.

As well as complaining that the book was sexually explicit, Lyman insisted it was offensice to Christians. Well, I suppose if you are a barking mad fundie, I suppose it would be offensive to read a fictional reminder of what a society run according your interpretation of The Big Book of Fairy Tales would be like.

School board reverses ban on Handmaid's TaleHouseton Chronicle, 24th March 2006.

March 22, 2006

Religious? Unhappy? www.prattle.net

United States: A religious organisation which makes the ridiculous claim that it is possible to convert from homosexuality to heterosexuality is upset that people naturally take the piss out of them. So terrified were Exodus International that the Liberty Counsel sent blogger Justin Watt a cease-and-desist letter asking him to remove an image parodying the organisation's snake oil advertisements.

Fortunately, the ACLU is on Watt's side, along with their lawyers, who argue that the parody image is constitutionally-protected free speech, and fair use.

[Straight? Unhappy? www.gay.com]The moment I saw the billboards last September, I was deeply offended. The inspiration for the parody I created came to me instantly. How would straight people feel if their very being, their sense of self was being so overtly disparaged? said Justin Watt, a blogger from Santa Rosa, California. Their response was to try to intimidate me into taking the image down. It’s troubling that an organization as big as Exodus would go to such great lengths to silence its critics.

The billboard, sponsored by ex-gay ministry Exodus International, read, Gay? Unhappy? www.exodus.to. After seeing a photo of the billboards online, Watt posted an altered version reading, Straight? Unhappy? www.gay.com on his website, Justinsomnia.org. Liberty Counsel, an anti-gay legal group representing Exodus, sent Watt a cease-and-desist letter earlier this month claiming the parody violated Exodus’s intellectual property rights and threatening legal action if the parodies were not removed. In a response sent today to Liberty Counsel, the ACLU’s cooperating attorney, Laurence Pulgram of Fenwick & West, LLP, called upon Exodus to drop its attempts to censor Watt, pointing to case law holding parodies to be Constitutionally protected speech.

Parodies like Justin’s are protected by the First Amendment as a form of political commentary. His point was to make a comment on a very important issue he has strongly held beliefs about: that Exodus’s tactics are wrong, that there’s nothing wrong with being gay, and that being gay doesn’t make you unhappy, said Ann Brick, a staff attorney with the ACLU of Northern California. Just as a group like Exodus has a Constitutionally protected right to say whatever it wants to about gay people, even when that view has been roundly condemned by every major psychological and medical organization, Justin has a right to use parody to voice his opposition.

ACLU Defends Blogger's Right to Parody "Ex-Gay" GroupACLU Press Release, 22nd March 2006.

March 21, 2006

God punishes birds over gay rights

Israel: A rabbi has declared that an outbreak of bird flu in Israel is the work of God. According to Rabbi David Basri, God is angry with some of the more left-leaning political parties.

The bird flu outbreak stemmed from far-left political parties strengthening and encouraging homosexuality, Rabbi Basri's son quoted him as saying.

One of the parties aired an election commercial depicting two brides kissing. Some campaign advertisements also called for homosexual marriages to be legalized in Israel

Meanwhile, the same rabbi and his son are being investigated by police on suspicion that they are racist as well as homophobic.

According to suspicions, the Batzris allegedly made the racist comments at the conference which was held to rally support against the establishment of a bilingual school for Jewish and Arab students in the heart of the Pat neighborhood.

Rabbi David Batzri said, the establishment of such a school is a despicable and sinful act. An Arab cannot contaminate what is pure. It is forbidden to blend darkness and light. The nation of Israel is pure and the Arabs are a nation of donkeys. They are an evil disaster, an evil devil, and a nasty affliction.

Rabbi Yitzhak Batzri said, The Arabs are donkeys and beasts. They want to take our girls. They are endowed with true filthiness. There is pure and there is impure and they are impure.

Wrath of God behind Israel bird flu?Reuters, 21st March 2006; Mystical sage, son to be probed for suspected racist incitementHa'aretz, 21st March 2006

Another one bites the dust

United States: Life is hard right now for teachers who want to teach the classics. Yesterday, we mentioned the case of Tresa Waggoner. Today it's the turn of drama teacher Wendy DeVore, formerly of Fulton High School, Columbia, Missouri, who has resigned from her job, complaing that [i]t became too much to not be able to speak my mind or defend my students without fear or retribution. Fear of whom? Barking mad fundies of course!

The trouble started when she and her students put on a performance of the musical Grease. Admittedly the 1972 musical is a lot more hard-hitting than the film, and concerns the trials and tribulations of a group of teenagers, including the various ways in which they get into trouble. Members of Callaway Christian Church complained about scenes showing teens smoking, drinking and kissing and DeVore was ordered to stick to more family-friendly material in future.

So, she turned to that old staple, Shakespeare. Parents often complain that the Bard isn't taught enough in schools these days, so surely there should be nothing wrong with A Midsummer Night's Dream?

Apparently, the literary classic, a staple on English Literature exams throughout the English-speaking world, is right out. Apparently there's too much dicey subject matter, including suicide, rape and losing one's virginity, none of which can be found in the Bible, of course.

And the spring production, the cancellation of which led to DeVore's resignation? The Crucible.

Teacher decides to leaveColumbia Daily Tribune, 18th March 2006. See also Prat of the Year 2006, first nominees: George Sauter and the BabisPagan Prattle, 20th March 2006.

Archbishop: teach science, not religion, in science classes

England: The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, has strong words to say about teaching creationism in schools.

I think creationism is ... a kind of category mistake, as if the Bible were a theory like other theories ... if creationism is presented as a stark alternative theory alongside other theories I think there's just been a jarring of categories ... My worry is creationism can end up reducing the doctrine of creation rather than enhancing it, he said.

In the interview at Lambeth Palace, Dr. Willams also criticised Nigerian Archbishop Peter Akinola, accused of inciting violence against Muslims.

Archbishop: stop teaching creationismThe Guardian, 21st March 2006.

March 20, 2006

Prat of the Year 2006, first nominees: George Sauter and the Babis

United States: Over in the Bennett School District, Colorado, there is a school superintendent and a board member even more bigoted and mean-spirited than principal Guy Bowling.

Tresa Waggoner, Christian singer and music teacher, has been forced to resign from her job after she showed an extract from the opera Faust to pupils in a music class. Blissfully unaware that it is a Christian morality tale, some loony fundie parents complained, saying the opera promoted Satanism and abortion. Waggoner was put on paid leave. Even though a school board meeting voted overwhelmingly in her favour, superintendent George Sauter declared it would be 'disruptive' to allow Waggoner to teach again.

Mike Babi is a member of the school board and a parent at the school. Along with his wife Cori, he is suspected of having a vendetta against Waggoner after the school Christmas concert featured no religious songs, and the ongoing stushie has also forced the resignation of Mayor Karen Grossiant. She noted that her town, Bennett, has a mean-spirited undertone.

When the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints built a meetinghouse in nearby Strasburg last year, there was a debate over whether Mormons were Christians, she said.

The issue with Tresa Waggoner wasn't the opera, but that she had run the holiday pageant without Christmas songs, said Grossiant.

Waggoner also connects the concert with a plot against her, and recalled being threatened by the Babis:

Cory Babi, the wife of school board member Mike Babi, called four days before the program and said there would be problems if there were no Christmas songs, said Waggoner.

I told her we couldn't sing them because public schools didn't want to offend people of other religions, including Jewish people, Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses, she said.

After Waggoner showed less than 12 minutes of the Faust videotape, Cory Babi said her daughter asked about abortion and suicide. Babi declined comment Thursday.

The connection is transparent. They lied and said Faust is about abortion, said Waggoner. The only thing I can do is expose this as the injustice that it is.

Waggoner has said that she will pray for Sauter so he could live with himself for doing something so wrong and plans to seek work as music director for a church.

Faust is a mediæval tale of a magician who does a deal with Satan and gets into Deep Shit as a result—precisely the message you'd think fundie parents would want teaching to children.

Teacher seeks new job after 'Faust' flapRocky Mountain News, 10th March 2006.

Chef didn't quit according to friends

United States: Various news sources recently reported that Isaac Hayes had quit South Park in protest at the Scientology episode. Well, his friends are suspicious, and voiced their fears to Roger Friedman, a journalist who also knows the singer.

Isaac Hayes did not quit South Park. My sources say that someone quit it for him.

I can tell you that Hayes is in no position to have quit anything. Contrary to news reports, the great writer, singer and musician suffered a stroke on Jan. 17. At the time it was said that he was hospitalized and suffering from exhaustion...

...Friends in Memphis tell me that Hayes did not issue any statements on his own about South Park. They are mystified.

Isaac’s been concentrating on his recuperation for the last two and a half, three months, a close friend told me.

Hayes did not suffer paralysis, but the mild stroke may have affected his speech and his memory. He’s been having home therapy since it happened.

That certainly begs the question of who issued the statement that Hayes was quitting South Park now because it mocked Scientology four months ago. If it wasn’t Hayes, then who would have done such a thing?

Chef's Quitting ControversyFox News, 20th March 2006.

Loony Fundy Group Behind Political Smear Campaign

Australia: The Exclusive Brethren, a loony fundy Christian cult, has been caught distributing false and misleading documents about the Tasmanian Greens. They're also guilty of bankrolling the half-page ads claiming that the Tasmanian Greens' progressive transgender and intersex policies would ruin our families and societies.

National Greens Leader Bob Brown says an election pamphlet bearing his photograph and being distributed statewide is full of hate.

This is a very highly cashed up campaign by people whose bigotry is miserable and divisive of families. It is in strong contrast to the Greens inclusive and family-enhancing policies, Senator Brown said.

Watch it while you can

March 19, 2006

Harry Potter: The First Step to a Life in the Embrace of Satan

Vatican: Father Gabriele Amorth, the Vatican's chief exorcist, has warned that reading Harry Potter could lead young people towards Satanism. Bear in mind that the original source was that great bastion of fact-checking, The Sun.

By reading Harry Potter a young child will be drawn into magic and from there it is a simple step to Satanism and the Devil, he was quoted as saying.

You start with Harry Potter, who comes across as a likeable wizard, but you end up with the Devil.

There is no doubt that the signature of the Prince of Darkness is clearly within these books.

In 2003 Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI) reportedly wrote two letters to a critic of the Harry Potter series.

It is good, that you enlighten people about Harry Potter, because those are subtle seductions, which act unnoticed and by this deeply distort Christianity in the soul, before it can grow properly, he wrote.

By Satanism he no doubt means that children may learn to read, think for themselves and question the insanity spouted by the recent crop of frock-wearing troglodites who claim to filter the word of their imaginary friend to the great unwashed masses.

Vatican exorcist warns of Harry Potter [BugMeNot] - Sydney Morning Herald, 3rd March 2006.

March 18, 2006

A Signature From God

United States: Paul Sewell, a self-employed bond enforcement agent, has had a run-in with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. It seems they take a dim view of his long-held habit of signing his name as God on official documents, including his drivers licence and voter registration form.

...he signs official documents as God because fugitives always preface their comments with Oh, God, when he captures them. He said his co-workers thought that was funny and took to calling him God.

In his appeal to the court, he said I do not know why they are cancelling my driver's licence that I have had at age 16. Now I am 40.

He signed his appeal, God.

Cross with 'God' driver [BugMeNot] - Sydney Morning Herald, 6th February 2006.

March 13, 2006

Arrrrggghhh!

England and Wales: Regular commenter G. Tingey managed to contact the Prattle Towers Temporary Irish Encampment with news from home. The message consisted of the word Arrrrggghhh! and a link to this story: Creationism to be taught on GCSE science syllabusThe Times, 10th March 2006.

March 9, 2006

God angry with Blair; plague of toads threatened

News has reached Prattle Towers (temporary Irish encampment) that Terry Jones has a scoop from Heaven itself—the Lord God Almighty is not pleased at Tony Blair's attempt to blame Him for the Iraq business.

A high-level leak has revealed that God is furious at Tony Blair's attempts to implicate him in the bombing of Iraq. Sources close to the archangel Gabriel report him as describing the Almighty as hopping mad ... with sanctimonious yet unscrupulous politicians claiming He would condone their bestial activities when He has no way of going public Himself, owing to the MMW agreement (a reference to the long-established Moving in Mysterious Ways concordat)...

If Tony Blair thinks his friendship with George W Bush is worth rubbing out a couple of hundred thousand Iraqi men, women and children, then that's something he can talk over with me later, said God. But when he starts publicly claiming that's the way I do the arithmetic too, it's time I put my foot down! It is well known that God has a very big foot.

God: I've lost faith in BlairThe Guardian, 8th March 2006.

March 7, 2006

First with the news

What if the Earth was destroyed? How would you know? Well, the Prattle now links to an important service which will tell you the current Earth Destruction Status, provided by the International Earth-Destruction Advisory Board in Nottingham.

Current Earth-Destruction Status

So, from now on, if you need to know whether the Earth has been destroyed, you just need to check the sidebar. You do not need to worry unless you see this:

March 5, 2006

Kali at it again.

India: That charming young deity, Kali, appears to have been helping Father Darwin with his work, with reports that she is inspiring people to sacrifice children to her. The reports seem to be based around a a tiny number of incidents involving disreputable 'holy men', extremely gullible and superstitious people, plus a mediæval approach to evidence gathering.

She consulted a tantrik, a travelling 'holy man' who came to the village occasionally, dispensing advice and putrid medicines from the rusty amulets around his neck.

His guidance to Sumitra was to slaughter a chicken at the entrance to her home and offer the blood and remains to the goddess. She did so but the nightmares continued and she began waking up screaming in the heat of the night and returned to the priest. 'For the sake of your family,' he told her, 'you must sacrifice another, a boy from your village.'

Ten days ago Sumitra and her two sons crept to their neighbour's home and abducted three-year-old Aakash Singh as he slept. They dragged him into their home and the eldest son performed a puja ceremony, reciting a mantra and waving incense. Sumitra smeared sandalwood paste and globules of ghee over the terrified child's body. The two men then used a knife to slice off the child's nose, ears and hands before laying him, bleeding, in front of Kali's image.

In the morning Sumitra told villagers she had found Aakash's body outside her house. But they attacked and beat her sons who allegedly confessed. 'I killed the boy so my mother could be safe,' Sanjay screamed. All three are now in prison, having escaped lynch mob justice. The tantrik has yet to be found.

The police are aware of a number of similar incidents, and also lay the blame squarely on a lack of education, though they seem perfectly happy to accept the confessions extracted by torture:

'It's because of blind superstitions and rampant illiteracy that this woman sacrificed this boy,' said Khurja police officer AK Singh. 'It's happened before and will happen again but there is little we can do to stop it. In most situations it's an open and shut case. It isn't difficult to elicit confessions - normally the villagers or the families of the victims do that for us. This has been going on for centuries; these people are living in the dark ages.'

The tantriks themselves are concerned that their long-standing good reputation for folk medicine is being marred by a few bampots.

Indian cult kills children for goddessThe Observer, 5th March 2006.

Situational science

March 4, 2006

The Israeli Anti-Semitic Cartoons Contest

Israel: Back in February, an couple of Israelis announced their own response to the Mohammed cartoons:

Eyal Zusman (30, back from anonymity) and Amitai Sandy (29), graphic artist and publisher of Dimona Comix Publishing, from Tel-Aviv, Israel, have followed the unfolding of the Muhammad cartoon-gate events in amazement, until finally they came up with the right answer to all this insanity - and so they announced today the launch of a new anti-Semitic cartoons contest - this time drawn by Jews themselves!

We'll show the world we can do the best, sharpest, most offensive Jew hating cartoons ever published! said Sandy No Iranian will beat us on our home turf!

Well, the results are in, and you can view the cartoons online: Israeli Anti-Semitic Cartoons Contest, and an exhibition in Tel Aviv is planned. Not surprisingly, most refer to the Palestinian situation, the Holocaust or parody old tropes about Jewish control of the media. There are a few making reference to that eternally Prattleworthy topic, the Blood Libel, and my choice for the best of them is Matzoh Balls, by Guttman and McConnell.

[Matzoh Balls, by Guttman and McConnell]

Israeli group announces anti-Semitic cartoons contest!Boomka.org, 14th February 2006.

Bampot tag: .

March 3, 2006

The lunatics have taken over the asylum

United Kingdom: Prime Minister Tony Blair has admitted that he asked his imaginary friend before sending British troops to Iraq. The voices in his head apparently told him it was okay.

Prime Minister Tony Blair says he prayed to God when deciding whether or not to send UK troops to Iraq.

Mr Blair answered yes when asked on ITV1 chat show Parkinson if he had sought holy intervention on the issue....

In the end, there is a judgement that, I think if you have faith about these things, you realise that judgement is made by other people... and if you believe in God, it's made by God as well, Mr Blair said...

The only way you can take a decision like that is to do the right thing according to your conscience.

Blair 'prayed to God' over IraqBBC News, 3rd March 2006.

Another ritual abuse case

Wales: A vicar's son has been jailed for nine years for raping a woman. Before the offence, Nicholas Vann insisted his victim do a bit of reading for him.

Prosecutor Ieuan Morris said: ... He grabbed her head, bent her over the bed and shouted: 'Read the Bible'. He had book-marked a page about women having to be submissive to men.

“He then forced her to have sex with him. He was forceful and perverted.


Judge Hopkins told Vann: You are a controlling, selfish and inconsiderate man - a sexual bully and a sexual deviant...

“You used the Bible to make her submit and she suffered for your beliefs.

Nine years' jail for 'Bible' rapeBBC News, 3rd March 2006.

March 2, 2006

Bargain of the Day: Christian simulacra

Today's must-have bargains are more examples of over-active imaginations at work. First up is JESUS FACE ON A LOG christian bible catholic religious. We are urged PLEASE HELP HIT THE PULSE " CLICK WATCH IT NOW".

[Jesus log, and half a picture of Jesus]PLEASE CLICK ON YOUR WATCH IT NOW TO GET IT ON THE PULSE

This is the way i found it in the desert. This log is not touched painted or anthing like that i cant believe it. Its a weird story me and my kid were in the desert and i was talking to him about a problem we as a family were having, around a camp fire. And my kid said ask God. 10 second lateri was picking up a log with JESUS on it

Im not a very religious person, But my kid is. The prayer was answered and the log needs a new home. If your prayer is answered pass it on after.

PLEASE CLICK ON YOUR WATCH IT NOW TO GET IT ON THE PULSE

Bid a penny at a time. I promise this is real and not like some piece of toast with the big man grilled into it

It's the bit on the right of the picture, rather than the side that looks like the conventional representation of Jesus. Bidding is at $1.01 (US) right now, but there's another 9 days to go. A little more expensive are these Images Of Mother Mary & Christ. They are presumably not of interest to fundies, as this pair of masterpieces was apparently created 210,000,000 years ago.

[Jesus and Mary, innarock]Images Of Mother Mary and Christ in a 210 million year old rock. READ EVERTHING VERY CAREFULLY. 1) ONE OF A KIND. 2) IT IS ORGINAL) 3) ESTIMATED @ 210 MILLION YEARS OLD. 4) ONLY SERIOUS BIDDERS ONLY PLEASE. 5)YOU WILL EXCEPT THE C.O.D. CONDITIONS, NO IF ANDS OR BUTS.) THIS IS ORIGINAL AND MADE BY MOTHER EARTH AND ALL SEE MOTHER MARY AND HER BACK SIDE OR MOTHER MARY AND HER SON JESUS CHRIST. I WISH THE BEST TO ALL BUT MOST OF ALL THE WORLD MUST SEE THIS. GOOD LUCK.

location found in Cerro Cuadrado, Patagonia, Argentina

Age: Jurassic (Approx. 210 Million Years Ago)

WILL CONSIDER A SERIUS BEST OFFER

I've turned the photograph through 90 degrees so you can easily see what miraculous object is worth the US $1,000,000.00 (US) Buy It Now price.

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