freedom of expression

SkepSun #123 (01_25_2015)

We get things underway as we do each week with Freethought Radio. After honoring the birthdays of freethinking composers Mozart and Jerome Kern, Annie Laurie Gaylor and Dan Barker celebrate the birthday of founding patriot Thomas Paine, the deistic freethinker who wrote The Age of Reason, by listening to Dan’s tribute,“The World is My Country.” Then they talk with Steven Hewett, a retired Army sergeant and Afghanistan veteran who successfully stopped religious symbols from being displayed at a Veterans Memorial in his North Carolina city. They also report on something closer to home for us, NY-Governor Coumo’s announcement last week of a new Office of Faith-Based Community Development Services to be funded with $50 million dollars. See how you can make your voice heard here. Rounding out the first hour, some comments published last week  by author and neuroscientist Sam Harris about freedom of expression and Islam in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo and Kosher market massacres in Paris.  Starting hour two, T-burg’s own Gordon Bonnet reports on a survey showing that most Americans favor labelling foods that contain…wait for it…DNA. Then we learn about how the woo-woos often masterfully use rhetoric to their advantage and how we skeptics need to learn to add rhetorical analysis our their “skeptic’s toolbox.” In a talk recorded a few months back at CFI Los Angeles Peter Marstona professor of Communication Studies at California State University Northridge—will explain the differences between rhetorical analysis and traditional critical thinking, demonstrate how those making extraordinary claims use rhetoric, and show the ways in which rhetorical analysis can improve a skeptic’s ability to disarm advocates of the paranormal and pseudo-scientific.

Is rhetoric the missing tool from the ‘skeptic’s toolboox”? What can we learn from rhetorical analysis of extraordinary claims and how can we skeptics cleverly use rhetoric ourselves?

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SkepSun #122 (01_18_2015)

Prominent news publications refused to show the cover  this week’s post-attack Charlie Hebdo which shows a tearful Mohammed holding a “Je suis Charlie” sign underneath the words, “All is Forgiven.” We’ll hear two very different takes on the limits of speech that ridicules religion. Salman Rushdie told an audience at the University of Vermont last week that there must be none at all, while the Pope  said as he boarded a plane for the Philippines said that there not only are there limits, but that punching someone who insults your mother is entirely “natural.” The  limits to free speech, if there are any, are also the subject on a podcast of the National Constitution Center, on which Eric Posner from the University of Chicago and Jonathan Rauch from the Brookings Institution join host Jeffrey Rosen. Is it hypocritical for France to enforce laws that criminalize so-called hate speech against Jews, for instance, at the same time as they defend the right of cartoonists to draw caricatures of Mohammed? Then we hear the most recent Point of Inquiry podcast on which Josh Zepp’s speaks with Jytte Klausen, a political scholar and professor at Brandeis University who in 2009 published a book about the 2005 Danish cartoons depicting Mohammed that sparked anger and protest in some corners of the Muslim world. Much to Klausen’s surprise, Yale University Press refused to include the very cartoons she was discussing. Klausen joins Zepps to talk about the precariousness of the struggle for free expression, and the balance we strike between security and freedom. Finally, with radical Islam in the international spotlight, one Saudi cleric decides it’s a good moment to issue a fatwa against…Frosty the Snowman. Gordon Bonnet of Skeptophilia has the details. But first, On Freethought Radio Annie Laurie Gaylor and Dan Barker talk with Eric Stone, an FFRF Life member who helped stop prayers at Concord, California city council meetings. Then they ask former Seventh Day Adventist minister Ryan Bell what happened after his experiment to live a “Year Without God.”

[audio http://dl.dropbox.com/s/fncqaxfsvziwlxc/SkepSun_01_18_2015.mp3]
The Pope demonstrating that punching someone who insults your mother or your religion is "only natural" on Jan. 15, 2015.

Turning the other cheek, like freedom of speech, has its limits: the Pope demonstrating that punching someone who insults your mother or your religion is “only natural” on Jan. 15, 2015 to the delight of all aboard his plane.