A long time ago, Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention put together a track entitled: “It Can’t Happen Here.”  Exactly what it was or is that can’t happen here is never particularly mentioned in the song, but ol’ Frank seems to be adamant that whatever “it” is, it ain’t coming down around here (wherever “here” is) ... or maybe it is.

It was a long but productive week I spent in Dallas.  Helping bring a system up, teaching a maintenance course using that system, then assisting one of my students in qualifying some spare assemblies for that system while helping him learn how to do at least some of the work himself was tiring but satisfying.  We quit early that day (my associate was feeling a bit off), and I returned to the hotel to check email and watch news before going to grab some dinner.

I was stuck with using the hotel’s computers to do my cyber-homework, as the display on my laptop had decided to file for separate maintenance, and I spent maybe half an hour checking email and writing the last installment of a trip report for the man who was sponsoring this trip.  That done, I headed down the hall for the elevator which would take me to the third floor and my pro-tem residence.  The elevator door was open as I approached and I called out, “Hold, please!” as I watched a couple enter.  He was tail, dark-skinned, but the woman was far more notable, particularly for her dress.  It was long, flowing, a deep royal blue with black accents.  What was more remarkable, though, was that it did not stop at her shoulders, but continued all the way up to the top of her head.  As I entered and redundantly pressed the “3” button, she turned to face the elevator door, and my suspicions were confirmed: her face was as covered as her hair was, with the exception of a three-quarter-by-five-inch opening which revealed her blue-grey eyes and nothing more.  Yes, she was wearing a burqa, but that isn’t the end of it.  As I entered, I caught the end of an exchange between the man (I presume her husband) and the woman.  Her accent was 100% American.  We arrived at the third floor and the doors opened.  I went west, they went east and that was pretty much the end of that encounter.

So … yes I know there are all sorts of women, Americans included, who convert to Islam for one reason or another and wear the hijab or something like it.  I’ve seen many such women in my travels … but an American woman wearing the Islamic equivalent of the Full Monty?  I didn’t let my face show it, but I was seriously boggled to hear a Midwestern accent from the inside of what was that over-designed bag.

So Frank … was THIS what you were talking about when you said, “They were so sure it couldn’t happen here, buuuuuuuuuuuuuuuut?” … and as for YOU, Suzy Creamcheese … what’s YOUR story?

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Comment by Joan Denoo on May 7, 2013 at 12:18am

Brandi, thanks for the clarification on your name preference. No, Brandi, you didn't imply to me that you excused misogynistic behaviors. You spoke your truth and that is what I want to read. You are correct in saying all christians and all muslims are not brutes and thugs. I probably implied that because anytime a christian does not stand up against the crimes of people who believe in the same god as they do are either afraid, foolish, blind and deaf, or have no compassion. Judgmental? yes I am. Vindictive? Absolutely! Sincere? With my whole heart. 

I have heard christian apologetics my whole life and I am fed up with the strategy. No one benefits by it and a lot of people suffer horribly.  The same for muslim apologetics. Some tell me I turn people off instead of inform or inspire them. That is probably true. What is, is. 

You don't need to apologize to me, and I don't know about Loren, but I suspect he had his say and that is that. Yes, Loren has pulled me through some tough times and never gave up. For that I am eternally his friend ... We have our differences and as far as I am concerned he is my brother, worthy of trust. 

Now, on the tasks at hand. I like atheism, it has been very good for me. I like the enthusiasm, and the vigor with which we confront problems. Trying to get unity out of them is like herding cats ... not at all like the sheep who would save us. 

I would like to read some more experiences of making a change away from belief and faith toward reason and critical thought. Music would be nice, both the informal, folk type and the grand Beethoven type. I would like to see some skeptic art and crafts showing enthusiasm for the secular world. Well, If I want these things, I guess I better get busy and produce some of these things. I can't wait around for others to do it for me. 

Comment by Joan Denoo on May 6, 2013 at 11:35pm

Debra Stevenson/Brandi Amari Williams, I keep forgetting to whom I am writing. I re-read this string and I don't see any evidence of Loren misunderstanding what was written here. He is one of the most vocal and ardent supporters of women I know and he writes what he thinks.  He surely makes a lot more sense than religious apologists.

And, he is a lot more fun.

Loren, may I impose on you for some more soothing music; I find I need a shot of your music choices.


Comment by Loren Miller on May 6, 2013 at 10:01pm

Interesting data, Lillie.  I suspect this whole incident (the Boston Marathon bombing) has been a wake-up call to a woman who was otherwise clueless about her husband's attitudes and intentions.  It's a damned shame, but sometimes you have to learn the hard way.

Comment by Lillie on May 6, 2013 at 9:50pm

This brings to mind the wife of the Boston bomber who has been seen leaving the home of her American parents wearing a Muslim headdress and severe dark clothing.  She has been formerly described as a very talented, creative young American woman who apparently fell for an intriguing mysterious foreigner and is now in a very unenviable situation.  Apparently, she has resumed her maiden name and has been distancing herself from the arrangements for the burial of her husband.  I wonder what she now thinks of the religion of this man she gave up her life for.

Comment by Loren Miller on May 6, 2013 at 9:08pm


The short version of the Arab and the Camel is: An Arab is in his tiny tent in the desert while his camel is tethered outside.  It's a cold night and the camel asks the Arab if he can stick his nose in the tent to warm it.  The Arab assents ... but then the camel's ears are cold, and then his neck, then his hump ... and the next thing you know, the camel is in the tent and the Arab is out in the cold.

Variations on the Slippery Slope, but with a difference, I think.

Comment by Joan Denoo on May 6, 2013 at 6:00pm

"It Can't Happen Here...?" Do you remember the term, "Vagina dentata (Latin for toothed vagina) describes a folk tale in which a woman's vagina is said to contain teeth, with the associated implication that sexual intercourse might result in injury or castration for the man."

Even modern writers, join in the folk tales, perpetuating the myths. I think this is what my prisoners were thinking:

In her controversial best-seller Sexual Personae (1991), Camille Paglia wrote:

The toothed vagina is no sexist hallucination: every penis is made less by every vagina, just as mankind, male and female, is devoured by mother nature.[6]

In his book, The Wimp Factor, Stephen J. Ducat expresses a similar view, that these myths express the threat sexual intercourse poses for men who, although entering triumphantly, always leave diminished.[7]"

Well, we need some new myths that talk of union, cooperation, participation as equals, and the bonds of physical and emotional love. We also could use a little Pleasure Principles that poses no threat to anyone and no hierarchy of male over fmale.

I don't like Camilla Paglia's ideas; she hasn't added to the understanding and partnership of humans. 

Comment by Joan Denoo on May 6, 2013 at 5:44pm

Loren, I don't remember your story of the "Arab and the camel" Do you mind repeating it? Your stories always add meaning to a topic. 




Comment by Joan Denoo on May 6, 2013 at 4:58pm
"NO, they DON'T get to have what they want in their own communities, regardless, Not If It Goes Against Civil Law. “
~Loren Miller
That is the point, we are a nation of laws not of men (read men and women). Our laws should look at human rights, those rights that empower each individual, without regard to sex, religion, race, culture, attitudes, beliefs, customs, tradition, and values. Laws that protect individual human rights have supremacy over laws to protect beliefs, if they violate basic human rights.

If a follower of the Abrahamic religions: Jew, Christian, and Muslim; and Indian religions: Hindu, Buddhist, Jain, and Sikh; and East Asian religions: Tao and Confucian; and Asian Shamans; and Native American; and Australian aboriginal traditions; and Chinese folk religions and postwar Shinto; and Gnostics, Sufi, Báb, and Bahá'í; and revivalists, Eckankar, Pentecostal, Reconstruction, and any other group one can imagine, that have politicies and practices that violate an individual’s human rights, they commit crimes and should be held accountable.

This is a free country and freedom from religion is part of it. Freedom of religion guarantees the right to believe anything they want, unless it violates human rights. If these people want to cut off the end of a male penis or cut off the female clitoris, or marry off young girls before they have matured, or abandonment of families, then they commit violation of human rights codes and require legal sanctions.

This country guarantees the rights of humans. Oh, I can hear the yelps of popes and rabbis and mullahs, and from others who have traditions that harm individuals. Well, what are we talking about here? Is it the right of an individual or group to harm any human being, simply because it is mandated in other countries. USA, stands for something and if for nothing more than basic human rights
Comment by Loren Miller on May 5, 2013 at 6:38am

Actually, Brandi, NO, they DON'T get to have what they want in their own communities, regardless, Not If It Goes Against Civil Law.  Granted, I'm thinking less of the burqa here than I am about lovely little traditions like female circumcision ... fuck, let's call a spade a spade: female genital mutilation! ... or any other non-consensual action taken against women or men.  I can't help noticing that MOST of these requirements and sanctions are aimed at the distaff end of the spectrum, though.

Doubtless there are American women who fall in love with Muslim men and convert out of a desire to please their intended.  I'd  be curious to know how the steady progression of compromises and reduction of personal rights mandated by the quran sits with them, especially over time.  I'm suddenly reminded of my brother's first marriage, to a catholic, and the requirement of raising any children catholic.  I know my brother well enough to know that isn't likely to have gone over well with him, and just as well that the marriage didn't last the year.

For myself, I lived a life of compromise for too much of it, and having somehow managed to shake that attitude off, "compromise" is very nearly a dirty word with me.  I've used the story of the Arab and the camel a lot around here, but again, I think it applies.  How open the eyes are of women seduced by Islamic men, and how aware of the consequences are they?

Comment by Joan Denoo on May 5, 2013 at 12:24am

Ian, you say a former girlfriend ... and thankfully you didn't try to change her or walk on egg-shells on her account. Time to knock the dust off your sandals and go your own way; which you seem to have done. 
Yes, I have known women who wanted to wear the veil of Roman Catholicism, and even known a couple who thought it was "independent" to wear burquas in my classes. I always asked them privately if they wore the garment because of their choice. Women have the right to choose either one; I have no problem with that. It is when they have no choice, or when they impose their values and judgment on me or others who do not share their values that I take action. 

When I worked in a prison, many inmates demonstrated great anger against their wives and  girlfriends because the men had sexual arousal at night. When they complained about their wives or lovers being "sluts" I asked them how their sexual arousals meant their partners were worthy of such a name. The men were on one side of the wire and the women on the other. The arousal was in the minds men, not created by women. They could not separate themselves from another. They impose judgment on another.  

It is the same with religion when a person who believes god is real and feels he/she must impose their beliefs on others. How does the belief of one person mean another must listen? Believers fail to separate themselves from another. They impose judgment on another. 

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