Posts By ds
On December 9, 1790, freethinker and tireless free speech champion Richard Carlile was born in Ashburton, Devon, England.
After attending charity schools, Carlile began working at 13. In 1813, Carlile moved to London. He was jailed for selling political satires in 1817.
Carlile, a freethinking deist, then published an inexpensive version of The Age of Reason by Thomas Paine, and The Deist, a pioneering and popular freethinking weekly.
Carlile was prosecuted for blasphemy and seditious libel in 1819 by the Society for the Suppression of Vice. He became a cause celebre during two trials in the Guildhall where he defended himself. He was convicted and sentenced to pay £1,500 and spend three years in prison.
Carlile’s prison stay was doubled after he refused to pay the fine. He spent six years, until 1825, at Dorcester prison, where he published freethought tracts with wide circulation and influence, including reprints of freethinkers such as Voltaire, Shelley, Byron and Bentham.
He took over publication of the weekly Republican, a major freethought periodical with a circulation of 4,000 to 5,000, in 1822, also from prison.
Carlile’s wife, Jane, and sister and many supporters were imprisoned for disseminating Carlile’s tracts. A campaign, called the “war of the shopmen,” continued until Carlile, his workers and vendors were released.
Carlile opened up a shop to print and promote freethought literature, and teamed up with “Rev” Robert Taylor in the late 1820s, on freethought speaking tours. Together, they opened the Rotunda in London, a hub of dissent.
Both men were arrested and convicted of various blasphemies in 1831. Carlile continued organising and writing from prison, with the help of Eliza Sharples, known as “Isis,” who became his common law wife (or “moral mistress”) after he separated from his first wife.
Carlile spent more than a decade of his life in prison. Carlile’s gallant fight was “the greatest fight ever waged for a free press and free speech,” according to freethought biographer Joseph McCabe, lessening future prosecutions. His influence and cachet with other reformers gradually diminished and his final years were spent in great poverty.
He is remembered for his pioneering support for birth control, women’s suffrage and rights (which he called for in the 1820s), against child labour, for parliamentary reform and his one-man fight to free speech. He died in 1843.
He is quoted by Ira Cardiff in What Great Men Think about Religion (1945) as saying: “The fable of a god or gods visiting the earth did not originate with Christianity.”
It’s not the impoverished billions, and it’s not the majority of American consumers, either.
The consequences of human-induced climate change are dire. Crop failures will increase. Severe weather and rising sea levels will wreak more havoc. Species are being wiped out by the hour–and the continued existence of our own is threatened.
Even without the threat of climate change, we live in a world of vast inequality, where the majority of the world’s population struggles to meet basic needs like putting food on the table–while corporations refuse to pay living wages, and decent health care and housing remain unaffordable for many, when there is access at all.
As of 2010, 2.4 billion people in the world were living on less than $2 a day–more than one-third of the world’s population. Close to 1 billion people live on less than a $1 a day on average. Nearly 870 million people suffer from hunger and malnutrition, according to UN standards–around one in every eight people on the planet.
The growing numbers and size of urban slums throughout the world have typified this poverty in the modern era. One-third of the global urban population lives in what are classified as slums–6 percent of the urban population in developed countries and a staggering 80 percent in developing countries. Most slum dwellers live without clean water or other infrastructure.
Yet some people would have us think that the growing ranks of the poor are the real source of environmental stress and food shortages, rather than demand from those who rule in the Global North.
This is simply not true. According to environmental writer Fred Pearce, the poorest 3 billion people are responsible for only 7 percent of global emissions of greenhouse gases, while the richest 7 percent produce half of all emissions.
Clearly, the world’s poor are not driving climate change. Food shortages have more to do with the price of food, not its availability.
Trump’s move to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital appeals to Evangelical Christian’s death cultists…
From Diana Butler Bass
Much chatter on news and online about WHY Trump wants to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. I suspect that most secular commentators do not understand the religious dimensions of this story.
For decades, conservative evangelicals have been longing for this recognition. They believe it is necessary in order to regain control of the Temple mount.
That is important because rebuilding the Temple is the event that will spark the events of the Book of Revelation and the End Times.
Yes, of course, there are all sorts of political and secular motives for Trump’s action. But you can’t discount those evangelical advisors. Almost all of whom take these End Times prophecies literally. Of all the possible theological dog-whistles to his evangelical base, this is the biggest. Trump is reminding them that he is carrying out God’s will to these Last Days.
They’ve been waiting for this, praying for this. They want war in the Middle East. The Battle of Armageddon, at which time Jesus Christ will return to the Earth and vanquish all God’s enemies.
For certain evangelicals, this is the climax of history.
From TODD WALTON
Under The Table Books
“In the Eskimo language there are four future tenses: the immediate future, the middle future, the far-in-the-future future and a future that will never arrive.” Robert Littell
I just got my copy of Kate Greenstreet’s newest book of poems The End of Something. Wow. What a marvelous book. Not only are the poems songful and clear and provocative, as in thought/feeling-provoking, but the book itself is a most pleasing objet d’art with beguiling design touches and a splendiferous presentation of the poems, the line-spacing wonderfully spacious, the fonts exactly right, the book small yet not small—an insightful chronicle writ in a language we know but have never used this way.
As I read Ms. Greenstreet’s opus, images from my past rise from the depths; and the next thing I know I’m returning to the present here by the fire, many minutes having ticked away while I slipped and slid down various memory lanes—proof to me of how excellent her poetry.
From 80. WHAT TO DO WITH THE WILL TO BELIEVE
Whatever happened to divine
as the basis of self-discipline.
Fifteen years ago. I am fifty-three, walking the labyrinth embedded in the plaza outside Grace Cathedral in San Francisco. The woman I am involved with is twenty feet ahead of me on the mystic coil. She is often displeased with me and emotionally unavailable: two big obstacles to the continuance of our relationship.
From Raw Story
In a world filled with chaos, a new “suicide machine” allows people to exit life in an orderly, peaceful manner. The Sarco is a technological marvel, resembling some kind of futuristic sleeping chamber, that aids in voluntary assisted dying.
Australian doctor Philip Nitschke, whom Newsweek identifies as the “Elon Musk of assisted suicide,” unveiled the new apparatus earlier this week, just days after lawmakers in the state of Victoria voted to legalize euthanasia. The device simplifies what Nitschke dubs “rational suicides,” ensuring that the process is painless and easy—an optimal way to go.
The Sarco was developed by Nitschke’s organization, Exit International, which bills itself as an “aid-in-dying” organisation. The machine includes a base topped by a translucent chamber perfectly proportioned to comfortably fit a human. After settling in the pod, the user will push a button and the chamber will start to “fill up with liquid nitrogen to bring the oxygen level down to about 5 percent.” Around the minute mark, the user will become unconscious, experiencing almost no pain, according to the Newsweek report. (The doctor describes the changes as akin to “an airplane cabin depressurizing.”) After death comes, which is fairly swift, the chamber can be used as a coffin. The base, just fyi, is reusable.
In a press release, Exit International notes the Sarco “was designed so that it can be 3D printed and assembled in any location” and that blueprints “will be free, made open-source, and placed on the Internet.” While accessibility is a major selling point, there is one hurdle would-be users will need to clear: a “mental questionnaire” that’s available online. Once a client has established mental health, they’re given a 4-digit code that opens the capsule door, the first in a series of steps to “a peaceful death…in just a few minutes.”
According to Newsweek, a few suicide clinics in Sweden have expressed interest in licensing the Sarco for use. There are also likely to be takers in other spots around the world. In addition to the new Victoria law, assisted suicide is now legal in Belgium, Canada, Colombia, Luxembourg and the Netherlands, where it’s become an increasingly popular choice. In the U.S., only teminally ill patients can opt for assisted suicide, and in many states, at least two doctors must verify the legitimacy of the request. State-specific legislative nuance governs “death with dignity” laws in California, Colorado, Oregon, Vermont, D.C. and Washington. All that said, support for the right to choose when and how one dies is on the rise. In 2016, 69 percent of Americans said “doctors should be allowed to end a patient’s life by painless means.” That number increased to 73 percent this year.
Philip Nitschke, who advocates for euthanasia to be a legal option for anyone over 70, continues to push for assisted suicide as a civil right. He says that the grey wave washing over Baby Boomers has helped create a sea change in thinking.
“These are people who are used to getting their own way, running their own lives,” Nitschke told the Big Smoke earlier this year. “A lot of the women have gone through political battles around abortion rights, feminism, the Pill. They don’t want to be told how to live or how to die. The idea that you can pat these people on the head and say ‘there, there, let the doctors decide’ is frankly ridiculous…People’s lives are people’s lives. Death is a part of that, and so it should be up to them to make the decisions.”