April 2007 Archives

April 30, 2007

More Virginia Tech conspiracies

United States: More and more conspiracy theorists have been hard at work coming up with their interpretation of the Virginia Tech shootings. After all, mentally ill person goes over the edge is far too simple to be the Truth. Salvador Astucia even manages to link it in with dead Wiccan soldiers being allowed to have a symbol of their religion on their gravestones.

There appears to be a great deal of occult activity in the Roanoke/Blacksburg area of Virginia... Have the police investigated the possibility that the slayings may have been ritualistic killings associated with satanic cults? Were any of the victims or their friends followers of Wicca, which is another term for witchcraft?...

Why did the Bush Administration endorse witchcraft within the military shortly after the slayings? Unbelievable as it sounds, the Bush Administration suddenly recognized Wicca (witchcraft) as a religion within the military less than one week after the Virginia Tech slayings... How is it possible that a conservative Republican and born-again Christian like George W. Bush would suddenly allow witchcraft to be a bona fide religion within the U.S. military? This happened just a few days after Bush spoke to students, faculty members, friends and relatives of shooting victims at Virginia Tech. If the situation weren't so tragic, it would make a funny comedy sketch on Saturday Night Live. I can just picture a Bush imitator saying, You young people have endured a great tragedy, and in times like this, we need to look to the Lord for guidance. And if that doesn't work, try witchcraft! This is unreal. Is it possible the Bush Administration's capitulation on Wiccans in the military was a quid pro quo of some sort–a payment to the true killers?

Of course, this particular hypothesis ignores the fact that there have been Wiccan (and, gasp, even Satanist) military chaplains in the US forces for about 20 years now.

Not so much a conspiracy theory, and more like hate speech aimed at an already demonised minority group, one of the American tabloids has decided that Cho did it because he was a poof. Of course, it makes complete sense! Pooves always go around stalking and harassing women to have sex with them.

April 24, 2007

Something in the air

UFOs are in the news again. First up is a lump of black rock found near Seattle, which some claim fell from an alien spaceship, and others claim came from a B-25 which crashed while carrying an alien spaceship. Possible alien stone found near SeattleEarth Times, 24th April 2007; Is strange rock from UFO or just a piece of poppycock?Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 22nd April 2007

Then there's a magic mountain in Argentina, where UFOs are said to gather, and which is claimed to have healing powers. But its special effects can only be felt if you know how to kid yourself: Books about the Uritorco are available in several languages because the hill's positive forces cannot be felt without some basic knowledge of its "spirituality reactor," a vendor explains behind a thick cloud of perfumed smoke rising from huge joss sticks. The languages available are clearly all dialects of Bollocks. Argentine magic mountain attracts UFO- and esoteric freaksJurnalo, 24th April 2007.

Finally we learn that Mick Jagger claims to have had a UFO encounter in the 1960s: In 1968 he went camping in Glastonbury with his then girlfriend, singer Marianne Faithful, and encountered a rare, luminous cigar-shaped mothership. Around the same time Mick had a UFO detector installed at his British estate. The alarm kept on going off whenever he left home, indicating the presence of strong electromagnetic activity in the immediate area. Of course, this all took place in the late 60s—a time when rock musicians never, ever took drugs. Sir Mick Jagger had close encounter with aliens in the 60sLondonNet, 23rd April 2007.

April 21, 2007

Bargain of the Day: porn, obviously

I can't read Spanish, but I know for sure what's being spammed to me today. But is the Bible an illegal drug, pornography or pirate software, because we know that's all that spammers advertise. The first spam came in at 06.35 this morning. Just in case I didn't get the message, it was repeated at 08:24, 16:02, 17:53 and 21:30. A look at the spam shows that it offers lots of Catholic clip art too—so why send it to my antipope.org address?

Evolution of a conspiracy

United States: The Virginia Tech shootings have given us an interesting insight into the way conspiracy theories, and other alternative viewpoints, develop.

On April 18th, Debbie Schlussel posted a picture she'd found on Flickr to her blog. It showed a young Korean man with glasses who bears no other resemblance to Cho Seung Hui, except that his name is Cho Seung Hoo - which apparently is quite different to a Korean. The young man is a computing teacher in Indonesia, and a Christian, and took the name Ismail while there because it's easier for the locals to pronounce. The picture showed him with this name written on his arm.

Schlussel suggested that this picture was of the murderer and that he was some kind of Islamist terrorist. When it was pointed out that this was not Cho Seung Hui, but a very different man living on the other side of the world, she took the post down, replacing it with an explanation this is not the guy, so I'm removing it. The photographer's explanation can be found near the bottom of this Boing Boing post. A less polite version of events can be found at The Agitator.

Anyway, case closed. Mistaken identity, everything's in the clear now, right? Wrong. Unfortunately, some people did not see the correction, and the story took off, fuelled by some good old-fashioned ethnic and religious hatred.

There are many theories being proposed as to the meaning of the words—ISMAIL AX found written in red ink on the inside of one of Cho Seung-Hui, a 23-year-old senior's arms, the gunman suspected of carrying out the Virginia Tech massacre that left 33 people dead. [The Followers of ISMAIL, David Johnsson]

A story that he put the name A. Ishmael on the package he sent to NBC and scrawled the name on his own arm just adds to the confusion, though the Daily Mirror did point out some explanations for the name, including one that makes more sense for an English student:

DERANGED Cho Seung-Hui may have seen himself as the lonely Ishmael character from the classic 19th century novel Moby Dick...

The novel by Herman Melville describes the voyage of a ship as it hunts for the great whale Moby Dick. The narrator introduces himself saying Call me Ishmael.

He tells the reader of his feeling of alienation from human society. Another theory is that Cho's reference is from the Bible. Ishmael was the son of the prophet Abraham.

We've already noted that Cho was clearly inspired by the Bible. Also, on the night the video was released, BBC News 24 reported that it included anti-Islam hate speech (no link, alas, but it was repeated during the non-stop coverage the channel was giving to the story) But the loons are still in denial, desperately trying to find some link to Islam, and heavily promoting the idea that he was a Muslim. The American Muslim explains, and also notes the hypocrisy that, these days, any criminal who might be Muslim is considered to be a terrorist:

Yet, the speculation over whether Cho had any connections to Islam continued because of the words Ismael Ax that were tattooed on one of his arms. What do these words mean? In the April 18 edition of the Chicago Tribune, Eric Benderoff wrote: In Islam, Ibrahim is the father of the prophets and, upset that people in his hometown still worshiped idols and not Allah, he smashed all but one statue in a local temple with an ax. Ibrahim's son is Ismail, who also became a prophet. He continued, This theory picked up speed because many bloggers wondered if the actions at Virginia Tech could be related to terrorism.

Once again, because of extremely dubious connections to Islam, Poof!...Cho Seung Hui becomes a terrorist. Once again, the moment someone who is Muslim commits a crime, it automatically becomes an act of terrorism. Never mind that Muslims, too, can be simple criminals and not lone jihadists ready to die (and kill) for Allah.

Bargain of the Day: Witch groping game

Japan can be a little odd at times, as a recently announced game for the Nintendo DS shows. In ã?©ã??ã?©ã??魔女è£?判ï¼? you play a teenage boy who gets to detect witches by the time-honoured method of sexually harassing them.

But it seems that some people are trying to kick up more of a fuss about Matthew Hopkins Jr. and have resorted to faking screenshots to make it look more pornographic than it is [日本語. English language explanation here].

God Hates the World

A group of wags wind up everyone, including fundies, with their Westboro Baptist Church Choir skit:

The comments are excellent.

April 20, 2007

Religious childcare: a primer

United Kingdom: Two recent court cases involving allegations of child abuse have a certain similarity. First up is Eunice Spry, a foster mother who has just been sent down for 14 years. The court heard that she routinely beat, abused and starved children over a 19-year period, sometimes forcing sticks down their throats or making them eat their own vomit or rat excrement.

During the trial, the three victims, known as A, B and C, all gave evidence describing how their daily routines were punctuated by random acts of bizarre and sadistic violence...

Victim B, also now 21, told how her foster mother would pull her hair and shove her face in her pet dog's faeces as punishment.

Victim C, now 18, described how his foster mother held his hand down on a hot electric hob until it was left looking like a gooey mess. He said he had been force-fed so much washing-up liquid by Spry that he could now differentiate between the brands on taste alone.

The children were made to eat lard and if they were sick, would be forced to eat what they had thrown up.

The relevance? Spry is a devout Jehovah's Witness though, to the credit of that organisation, it was another member who secretly confronted victim A about marks to her head, caused when Spry rubbed sandpaper over her face, and so exposed the abuse.

A similar case is being heard at Canterbury Crown Court. Two Mormon women are accused of torturing six young children by forcing them to eat red-hot chillies and whipping them with nettles. The prosecution presented a detailed description of the alleged abuse, which they claim went on for nine years:

The children were woken at 5am every day, made to say prayers and read scripture, before doing hours of housework. If they did not do their chores quickly enough and to a high standard, they were punished.

The cruelty amounted to physical harm, punishing these children even when they were very young, he said. The physical abuse included striking and slapping, administering chilli powder and chopped chillies, using rolling pins and spoons to strike them, making them eat on the floor, making them eat raw eggs and striking them with stinging nettles.

The eldest, a boy now aged 13, was gagged when he was naughty and bundled into a sheet to be restrained while he was beaten, the court was told. The women were also said to have placed him between them and punched him to each other like a football. They would also pick him up and throw him across the room...

She said she was a member of the church and had strict principles to teach the children how to work and be obedient.

'Sadistic' foster mother jailed for 14 yearsThe Guardian, 19th April 2007; Mormon women 'tortured children to instil discipline'The Times, April 2007.

The fun begins.

The Virginia Tech massacre, while not generating quite enough junk to qualify for its own Great ... Conspiracy List, has produced some interesting insights, and fortunately the Prattle's readers are very eagle-eyed.

Red Wolf found some of Cho's rant posed on the ABC website. It was rather, well, Christian. (Uni gunman: 'I die like Jesus' )

Thanks to you I die like Jesus Christ, to inspire generations of the weak and the defenceless people,he ranted....

Just like Jesus, he criticised the rich:

He also railed against wealthy students: Your Mercedes wasn't enough, you brats? Your golden necklaces weren't enough, you snobs? Your trust fund wasn't enough? Your vodka and cognac weren't enough? All your debaucheries weren't enough? Those weren't enough to fulfil your hedonistic needs? You had everything.

And Cho reminds us of Jesus' suffering:

Do you know what it feels like to be torched alive? Do you know what it feels like to be humiliated and be impaled on a cross and left to bleed to death for your amusement? You have never felt a single ounce of pain your whole life.

Strangely, even though Cho was clearly inspired by the Bible, there have been no calls to ban that particular book.

Alan Braggins pointed out a discussion on the Fox News website: Did the Devil Make Him Do It? Fundies, of course, disturbed by Cho's Christian blathering, say Quick, let's grasp that straw!.

Dr. Richard Roberts, president of Oral Roberts University, shouts an unequivocal Yes!

Based on what I've seen in the news, Roberts said in an interview, there's no doubt that this act was Satanic in origin.

Roberts added that he doesn’'t know if it was Satanic possession or oppression. Possession, he said, occurs when Satan takes over a person's life, and the person's actions are dictated by demonic possession within. Roberts says he's seen this type and has seen the Devil cast out of a person.

Satanic oppression, on the other hand, is that which comes against. It's not in a person, but is coming against them, trying to put evil thoughts in their minds, Roberts said.

He said that the evil thoughts in Satanic oppression can be fairly innocuous, or they can be harmful. And the oppression can be in the form of fear, depression or discouragement, he said, because Satan comes to kill, steal and destroy.

Roberts says we'll never know whether Cho was possessed or oppressed, because the killer has died. But he did leave a note blasting everyone around him, calling them rich kids, and deceitful charlatans, and then blaming them, saying you made me do this.

I thought the name of Jesus was supposed to have power over Satan. How could he possibly have tolerated his posessee shouting it all the time?

April 18, 2007

Irregular round up

Feeling lazy again. Here are some recent stories I missed:

  • Three Central American governments have banned a man claiming to be the Antichrist from entering their countries. Wear pants, Pope, says banned 'Antichrist'News.com.au, 15th April 2007.
  • A fight between nuns has ended with two injuries and two arrests. The violence broke out between two rival factions residing in a convent in Avdellero, Cyprus.. Nuns come to blows over rights to conventEkklesia, 17th April 2007.
  • Three people have been killed at a publishing house in Turkey that produced bibles, in an apparent attack on the country's Christian minority.. Three killed at Turkish publisherBBC News, 18th April 2007.
  • We have a problem with teenage Goths who go into graveyards at night. Vandals cause £15,000 of damage to two famous capital graveyardsThe Herald, April 2007. Other newspapers blame generic bored, pissed teenagers, rather than those who would simply wallow pretentiously in the dark romance of the graveyards.
  • Disappointment as pundits unable to blame massacre on goths. Trench Coat Mafias, Loners and GunsHuffington Post, 17th April 2007. (and not much sign that we'll have to start a Great Virginia Tech Conspiracy List, either. Oh no, I spoke too soon.)
  • European newspapers are ... implying that Charlton Heston is indirectly responsible for the scope of the killings.. Blaming Charlton Hestonalt.politics.republicans, 17th April 2007.
  • Virginia Tech assassin alive?alt.conspiracy, 17th April 2007.
  • Was VT Mass Murderer Cho Taking Paxil Anti-Depressant?alt.true-crime, 18th April 2007.
  • Early details about the horrific school shooting at Virginia Tech strongly indicate that these events represent a Columbine-style black- op that will be exploited in the coming days to push for mass gun control and further turning our schools into prisons.. Virginia School Shooting: Another Government Black-Op?alt.conspiracy, 16th April 2007.
  • We live in an era when public high schools and colleges have all but banned God from science classes. In these classrooms, students are taught that the whole universe, including plants and animals—and humans—arose by natural processes. Naturalism (in essence, atheism) has become the religion of the day and has become the foundation of the education system (and Western culture as a whole). The more such a philosophy permeates the culture, the more we would expect to see a sense of purposelessness and hopelessness that pervades people's thinking.. How Could a Loving God ... ?Answers in Genesis, 16th April 2007.

April 2, 2007

Speechless

England: There are some stories I wish were April Fools' Day jokes, but this one is dated 2nd April, so it can't be:

Schools are dropping the Holocaust from history lessons to avoid offending Muslim pupils, a Government backed study has revealed.

It found some teachers are reluctant to cover the atrocity for fear of upsetting students whose beliefs include Holocaust denial.

There is also resistance to tackling the 11th century Crusades - where Christians fought Muslim armies for control of Jerusalem - because lessons often contradict what is taught in local mosques.

I am lost for words.

Teachers drop the Holocaust to avoid offending MuslimsLondon Evening Standard, 2nd April 2007.

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