Going to Prison for South Park

This one was sent in by a reader. It looks like threatening South Park can get you a prison sentence. Per a Yahoo news story, Zachary Chesser wrote numerous web posts that Matt Stone and Trey Parker would end up like Theo Van Gogh. Theo Van Gogh was the great-grandson of another Theo Van Gogh, brother to Vincent Van Gogh (you might have heard of him). He was an actor and director and produced the film Submission which was critical of the treatment of Muslim women. For his efforts he was murdered by Mohammed Bouyeri in the streets of Amsterdam; shot eight times and then Bouyeri tried to decapitate him with a knife.

Now it wasn’t just threats of murder against the South Park creators that got Zachary Chesser a 25 year sentence. He tried to join al-Shabab, a Somalian terrorist group and also liked instructing people to “leave suspicious packages in public places in the U.S. so that if and when real bombs were planted they’d go unnoticed.”

Besides South Park, another one of his targets was “Draw Mohammed Day.” He went so far as to supply personal information for specific cartoonists in order to bring harm to them. As we know, the creator of the movement, Molly Norris, had to go into hiding after it was revealed she was in immediate danger.

What a wasted life going after cartoonists.  As if we’re that important–we just like to provoke where provoking is required. Hope Zach likes being butt-fucked in jail for Allah.

Cloud Ten Pictures Bashes United Nations

Dalal Mughrabi featured in White Hands Campaign

This may bite me in the ass, but I guess I’m doing some Christian media tattle-telling here.  Cloud Ten Pictures needs to correct one of their articles. Not that I’m perfect myself, but if you read their article on The White Hands Campaign you will see a direct link to their needed correction. I will quote the original article here lest it be changed or deleted once they wake up to their unnecessary UN bashing. Per the Cloud Ten post: “How disturbing is it that the United Nations is somehow involved in this despicable media campaign? This is a group that is supposed to encourage peace and human rights – NOT advocate terrorism!”

The White Hands Campaign is an effort by APUTV (Arab Producers Union for TV) to improve the image of women in Muslim countries and subsequently honor their achievements. Unfortunately, one of their honorees is a woman martyr named Dalal Mughrabi, a suicide bomber from 1978 who killed 37 civilians. I don’t really view blowing yourself up as much of an accomplishment so I agree with Cloud Ten’s assessment–but there’s no need to implicate the United Nations. Especially when the critical article links to contradictory information.

As we know, apocalyptic Christians hate the UN. Why? Because they are part of the conspiracy to elect the AntiChrist to take over the world. …But in this instance, Cloud Ten is wrong. They link to Wikipedia and Wikipedia notes that: “In February 2011, the White Hands Campaign drew criticism for its inclusion of Dalal Mughrabi, a Palestinian terrorist involved in the 1978 massacre of 37 Israeli civilians and an American photographer, in its Distinguished Women series. Consequently, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), whose logo had appeared as a sponsor of the White Hands Campaign, issued a statement denying any involvement and further clarifying that it ‘condemns any acts of violence that take the lives of innocent people.'”

Okay, so, “Watch this,” as Charles Stanley would say.  The accusation of using the UN logo to support the White Hands Campaign on Cloud Ten’s article says Feb 9th.  The text of Wiki’s article on the use of the logo and resulting controversy says February 2011, or rather the month of February is when the criticism occurred and the decision was made by the UN to deny any involvement. The information was last modified on Wiki on Feb 19th (see screen capture). Our Cloud Ten author’s blog post is dated Feb 24th. So at the time the Cloud Ten author was posting he should have checked his Wiki link and seen that the UN denied ever supporting the White Hands Campaign.  …Or at least noted it. Instead, there is just a broad, biased accusation. Why link to Wiki at all?

Of course, I’m sure I’ve made such errors too which is why I ask any Freethunk reader to call me out on them. But the reason I’m being so picky here is that the Cloud Ten author in question is Andre Van Heerden, President of Cloud Ten Pictures and director of the misleading Dragons or Dinosaurs which tries to support creationism through dragon legends and artwork. I’m calling Andre out on this to give a correction or at least note that the UN denial of support. I’m sure  Andre can find other accusations to make of the UN but this one is misleading for any reader who doesn’t take the time to click on over to Wikipedia. At the time he posted, he could have confirmed what Wiki said and it does not appear that he read it.

So sometimes the United Nations does the right thing.

The UN is a huge punching bag for the Christian right and it certainly deserves criticism. However, think about what you’re asking and how amazing that the UN even exists? You’re asking for all the nations of the world to come together and peacefully discuss international issues. This is a good thing as our world history is filled with war as the solution to solve differences, not communication. We’re talking to each other. The ulterior motives of apocalyptic Christians is to undermine this process because they believe that the UN leads to the end times. So instead of providing solutions, they simply want to tear it down (which makes no sense since you can’t stop prophecy can you?)

As for the White Hands campaign–good intentions but wrong role model. The Middle East is progressing though and as a cartoonist who has regularly lampooned suicide bombers and sexist attitudes against Muslim women, I still like the campaign idea as a baby step forward. Hopefully some Islamic women deserving of praise will get their due credit. I’m not really writing here to defend them, though, as I’m well aware of the support for terrorism through Palestinian propaganda. It just seemed to me that the UN got bashed for no reason and unless they’re lying (they are full of politicians) I just wanted to point out the error. Again, per the Wiki article: “It [The UN] stressed, however, that it provided no funding for the White Hands Campaign and that it was ‘neither consulted nor involved in the selection of Arab women to be featured in the initiative.'”

Andre Van Heerden needs to clarify and add a correction to his article, that’s all I’m saying. Screenshots included below. Also Van Heerden needs to wake up and read the Old Testament as his God is also not a god of peace. American Christians are secularized, which is why we progress in our tolerance of each other. Embrace reason, not an unreasonable God.

SIDENOTE: Even Palestinian Media Watch has an article giving the information on the denial of UN involvement. So what is the accusation? That the UN gave permission to use their logo for the White Hands Campaign and then withdrew it? PMW’s article is dated 2/13 with a UN press release dated 2/10 which is still a problem for Van Heerden’s post on 2/24 who acts like there was no denial. I suspect that there was a behind-the-scenes bungling at the UN at the time prior to 2/10 and  the correct authorization wasn’t given without review of what it was being used for. This would be different then intentional support though. For all we know, APUTV simply used the logo without permission.

Andre Van Heerden article with posted date

Wikipedia date of last modified, before Heerden posted his article

Real Easter Eggs That Say Jesus for Christian Kids

Jesus gets product placement with the “The Real Easter Egg.” Brought to you by the Meaningful Chocolate Company, because even chocolate has to be Christianized. The Easter eggs are meant to remind you that Easter is about Jesus and not another church ploy to supplant a pagan holiday.

Christian Today reports that in the UK supermarkets refused to stock “The Real Easter Egg” until a campaign with the support of the Church of England’s Bishop of Manchester made the news. They then hesitantly agreed to give it a trial run, not wanting to appear biased against religion. Early mail orders for the product show interest as more than 70,000 boxes were requested.

If you visit The Real Easter Egg website you’ll get some fascinating info on the holiday of Easter such as: “…many believe that chocolate eggs represent the boulder that sealed his tomb.” And “Easter is all about cute bunnies, fluffy chicks and eating too much chocolate, right? Well, not quite. We happen to think it’s a bit more meaningful than that.”

Alright, let’s see if we can add some perspective. I’m not against one religion trying to take over someone else’s holiday–really I’m not. I think atheists should do it too. But I am against misinformation or confusing the fact that Easter has pagan origins.

According to About.com, “The word “Easter” is named after Eastre, the Anglo-Saxon goddess of spring. A festival was held in her honor every year at the vernal equinox.” Therefore Christians shouldn’t even be using the word Easter, it should be Christ-centered such as “Resurrection Day” or “Christ Zombie” day.
In regards to eggs representing the tombstone that was rolled away? Again, per the information found on About.com, the Easter rabbit was believed to be a spirit, once called the Easter Hare instead of Rabbit. Easter Hares/Rabbits had so many multiple births that they became a symbol of fertility. “The custom of an Easter egg hunt began because children believed that hares laid eggs in the grass.” The Romans believed that all life came from an egg and Christians thought eggs were the seed of life and therefore a symbol of the resurrection of Christ.
ChristianAnswers.net goes back even further saying that the Easter Rabbit is from the time of Babel–the Tower of Babel. “The rabbit is well known as a sexual symbol of fertility. In various parts of the world, religions which developed from Babel also associate the rabbit with periodicity, both human and lunar (Egypt, China, etc.). As you may remember, the Mother Goddess Semiramis (Easter) is associated with the Moon. In other words, the Easter bunny symbolizes the Mother Goddess. Annual Spring time fertility rituals are associated worship of the Mother Goddess and Tammuz, the reincarnation of her husband Nimrod.
In regards to the egg, Meaningful Chocolate should review this statement from ChristianAnswers.net: “Easter egg activities have become a part of Western culture. Many would be surprised and even dismayed to learn where the traditions originated.” They then trace the egg to Babylon as a sacred symbol. It reflects the mythology that an egg fell from heaven into the Euphrates River and the Goddess Astarte (Easter) was hatched. So the egg represents a pagan goddess.
Even more interesting is the site The Restored Church of God which notes a mistranslation where Easter was inserted into scripture when it should have been The Passover (see Acts, chapter 12, KJV). Funny, I thought the Bible was perfect? Oh right, the original writings are, but not the translations…and we don’t have any of the originals in existence.
I say feel free to let your kids play with pagan symbols. If you want to attempt to revise their origins to make them mean a tombstone then it’s silly, but I can see not wanting to give up on pagan fun. Certainly I see no harm in atheist kids doing it, but I’m hoping freethinking parents will make it educational by explaining that true origins of Easter and not some product’s bastardized version of it.
I was unable to find any interpretation that Easter Eggs represent Christ’s tombstone (feel free to comment if you have a link or more information). Fact is, my searches kept leading me to Christian sites warning that Easter was a pagan holiday unfit for Christians. Yeah, and atheists get chastized for celebrating Easter by stupid Christians. How come so many Christians don’t know their religious facts? I mean I feel pretty incompetent as a freethinking atheist when it comes to knowing science, but looking up the origins of Easter and Christmas takes seconds. I’ve heard this arrogant proclamation from the pulpit as well as personal remarks on supposedly hypocritical atheists–sorry Christians, we’re on equal footing. The pagans were here first and we’re both just making their holidays our own.
SIDENOTE: While I disgree with the message, the motives of “The Real Easter Egg” producers are pretty good in that they use FairTrade practices and charity donations. Have to give kudos where kudos are due.

The King’s Speech Now MPAA Safe, Fear of Words Continues

I understand that because art and business overlap in Hollywood that bad decisions have to be made for the sake of turning a profit. Otherwise there isn’t more money to dump into other projects. I’m sad to see this is being done to the movie The King’s Speech because of the repeated use of the F-word in one particular scene. You can kill, you can show tits, and you can use racist/sexist/homophobic terminology but don’t dare ever use the F-word more than once in a PG13 film. And thus, according to The Hollywood Reporter, The Weinstein Company has recut and resubmitted The King’s Speech to the dictatorial and illogical MPAA and they have granted it a PG13 so the film can draw in more ticket-payers scared of the R status. Now kids can see the film and come to understand that depictions of historical characters should be sanitized and safe.

Here’s the thing–this was going to happen anyways once The King’s Speech was edited for television, but doing this for the theaters legitimizes this kind of artistic censorship in an effort to appease the MPAA board members. The MPAA has no standards that can be understood which is why you get very subjective reactions and why an indie film might get targeted for a gay embrace while a big budget film gets off the hook for blowing a hole in someone’s chest. The MPAA is an illusion for parents and the community at large. I mean if I were creative, I could direct a G-rated film with sweet bunnies that embraces Holocause Revisionism–but the message would still be offensive. The MPAA reacts to trivial elements such as exposed body parts, superstitious sounds (swearing) and special effects (violence)–not the message (unless their bias comes out and they find an excuse to use an R-rating because of the message). These elements are heavily noted for parents in all kinds of online family guides and reviews. Why do we need the MPAA in this day and age?

If you want to see how ridiculous and secretive this organization is watch the documentary This Film is Not Yet Rated (2006). The director literally stalks the MPAA board to find out just who is making these decisions for all of us. Think about that–in the diversity of America we have a handful of people labeling movies and telling us all what is offensive and what is not. This includes Christians who may find the message of a G rated documentary offensive like Pantheism for Kids (made up title) versus The Passion of The Christ with loads of violence. Are we all so stupid and uninformed that we can’t read a guide beforehand to see if the content is appropriate for our kids? Some parents are, but I would say most Christian parents aren’t as they themselves probably don’t trust the ratings board.

The MPAA unfortunately can limit distribution and sales just by a threat of a certain rating. It’s wrong and squashes ideas in the market of ideas as profit is required.

The King’s Speech was an enjoyable film that showed the frustrations and struggles of a man overcoming his speech impediment. Young people with stuttering issues could benefit–especially from the scene where he vents using the word “fuck” because the king in question learned something from it about himself. A PG13 rating is suitable for that scene as the F-word literally has the power taken out of it by the repetition and humor sets in. Lenny Bruce would have approved since he attempted to do the same with the  N-word–oh hell, the word “nigger” as I suspect you are all readers capable of putting words in context and not jumping to racist conclusions.

As long as I’m on that tangent, the recent decision by NewSouth Books to censor Mark Twain by replacing the word “nigger” with “slave” in Huckleberry Finn is so utterly ridiculous that it is essentially historical revisionism. It will be interesting in the future to see kids growing up and not being exposed to how the word was used in the past. We can start with literature and work our way up to the rap band NWA so that “Niggers with Attitude” becomes “Slaves with Attitude.”  Instead of sanitizing Mark Twain we can encourage kids to read it on their own so that it doesn’t have to be spoken aloud and cause embarrassment (I agree, a white kid having to read “nigger” is awkward). It doesn’t have to be part of a public school curriculum as there are so many pieces of literature that could be taught and so little time to do it. Fact is, an overview of “banned literature” would probably make sure some kids read it on their own. The taboo is always attractive. I guess you can throw To Kill a Mockingbird out of public schools too.

If you have any artistic sense and have not seen The King’s Speech I would wait for the R-rated version to come out on DVD. I don’t see why we should reward The Weinsteins, who I bear no ill will, with our patronage on this decision.

BTW: Fuck the MPAA!

Stephen Fry on Swearing

Speaking of which, it’s not just Christian prudes who object to swearing. It’s also atheists and skeptics who think swearing denotes a lack of intelligence. I still can recall the insulting manner one atheist had when emailing me who was surprised I had some competence with the English language because I had used the word “bullshit” in a cartoon. He was part of an organization trying to fund a charter school for humanist leaning students and I asked him how he planned to teach literature to these students without involving swearing or innuendo? I never got an answer…the pompous prick.