How We Won the War on Dungeons & Dragons, Annalee Newitz, io9, March 26, 2014
[U]nlike my fantasy of being a hot half-elf, the Christians actually had some control over our lives. My best friend got kicked out of Catholic school for playing D&D, which we counted as a win because it meant she could come to our shitty public school and play D&D with us. Outside our southern California town, however, D&D players weren’t getting off so easily. They were ostracized by their peers, kicked out of public schools, and sent to glorified reeducation camps by parents who feared their children were about to start sacrificing babies to Lolth the spider demon.
It sounds crazy in our world today, where there are Dungeons & Dragons movies and a rich game industry full of titles inspired by those old paper-and-dice games we played back in the twentieth century. One of the most popular shows on television, Game of Thrones, features plots that my friends and I might have cooked up back on that playground at lunch. Somehow, the popularity of epic fantasy and role playing overcame America’s fear of young people making up stories about monsters and gods.
The Cost Of Permission Culture: Or Why Netflix Streaming Library Sucks Compared To Its DVD Library, Parker Higgins, TechDirt, April 9, 2014
The problem is that, unlike earlier movie-rental options, streaming rights fall fundamentally within a permission culture. Netflix is a great illustration of what’s gone wrong here. It’s gone from having a nearly unrivaled catalog of films available to rent to being the butt of Onion jokes. What happened: It shifted from a system where nobody had a veto power over its operations, to one where it had to get permission and make deals with Hollywood. Sometimes it’s difficult to find the concrete costs of living in a permission culture, but the decline of Netflix’s selection is an important cautionary tale.
Physicist surprised to see himself in ‘documentary’ claiming the sun revolves around the earth, Robyn Pennacchia, Death and Taxes, April 8, 2014
Like any other Christian pseudoscience theory, geocentrism is built upon the premise that humans are special and earth is special and God made them special, so any science conflicting with that must be wrong. Like, probably Satan somehow made it look like the earth is really old and revolves around the sun just to destroy our self-esteem. The film makes this premise clear, with its suggested hashtag, #areyousignificant.
How Hatred of Islam Creates Strange Bedfellows of Christians and Atheists, CJ Werleman, AlterNet, April 11, 2014
Despite claims by David Silverman, president of the 501(c4) political lobby group American Atheists, atheism does not earn an atheist the title of freethinker. With very few exceptions, movement atheists are not. They’re parrots. Don’t believe me? Ask an atheist to opine on the Israeli-Palestinian crisis, and he or she will invariably wax lyrical about religious motivated violence, Islamic extremism and suicide bombers. In other words, expect a recital from atheist luminaries Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins and the late Christopher Hitchens.
Atheists, myself included, enjoy mocking religious fundamentalists for their inability to question authority or dogma. But very few atheists sound dissimilar to the aforementioned atheist heavyweights when it comes to assessing the roots of Islamic terrorism. In the aftermath of the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, American Atheists president Silverman tweeted, “Dear Peaceful Muslims: Sorry, but yet, that IS your Islam and your Prophet’s followers.” Silverman included the hashtag #IslamIsBarbaric. If you were told neo-con firebrand Ann Coulter had posted this careless tweet, you would have believed it.
No doubt, Harris (neuroscience) and Dawkins (evolutionary biology) are leaders in their respective fields. What they’re not is experts on terrorism and the Middle East. So movement atheism needs to stop pretending like they are, because the words of Harris, Dawkins and Hitchens serve only to make movement atheists sound like neo-conservatives, Zionists and the Christian Right, which ultimately makes seeking peace even harder to attain.
[Ed. note: The URL slug for the above article is “how-atheists-are-complicit-atrocities-and-oppression-palestinian-people.” Just thought that was worth noting.]
Photo credit: “Dragons famili” by mapazhe [CC BY 3.0], via deviantART.