Update on Dennis Markuze, and Thank You to Tim Farley

Tim Farley has this on his blog:

On Friday, November 16, 2012 Dennis Markuze was once again arrested by the SPVM (Montreal Police) for violating the terms of his May 22 suspended sentence. It took many people many months to track him down and convince the police to arrest him. This is the story behind that…

Read the rest of that post here.

I would like to thank Tim for his diligent and effective efforts. And, I have a few other things to say.

The whole Dennis Markuze/Dave Mabus thing is an interesting case where we are required to ask ourselves about or attitudes and reactions to the activities of individuals with mental illness. This is an issue that I think needs a lot more discussion and consideration. Mental illness does not mean stalking or potential violence and other annoyances. It is a much larger thing with many aspects, and it is a problem individual people have that can bleed out into the lives of others around them to greater and lesser degrees. In my view, society is pretty bad at dealing with that one (small) branch of mental illness that involves threatening or very anti-social behavior. Having said that, I think the Atheist and Skeptics community has done fairly well with this rare but unfortunate intersection of personal behavior of a mentally ill individual and our own sense of safety. People are not calling for the worst punishment for Dennis, or for his permanent incarceration, which is saying a lot about a community that is often willing to “ban people for ever” simply because they disagree on some issue or another. I think most people are willing to see the Canadian authorities deal with Dennis as a person in need of help, but in a way that firmly requires that he receive that help. I don’t think anyone is really able to say, mainly due to lack of information but also due to the nature of this sort of situation, if Dennis is a “true threat” to others or just a person who is very very annoying.

Regarding him being annoying: I found his latest form of harassment to be in some ways worse, in some ways not as bad as, his previous behavior. Prior to his first arrest many of his missives included clearly threatening language, with phrases such as “all Atheists must die” (I paraphrase). His second round of harassment contained no such language of which I’m aware, but he became more annoying in other ways. For instance, he discovered the Twitter tradition of Follow Friday (#FF). For a couple of weeks, every time I carried out the act, a form of mutual aid, of #FF, Dennis would then spam all the recipients of the minuscule largess that this constitutes. That meant that for me to be “nice” to a fellow Tweeter, I also inadvertently annoyed them by drawing them into Dennis’s crosshairs. Assuming that his previous threats involving all Atheists ending up dead were just hot air, this second round was much worse, directly interfering with our beloved Social Networking Activities (Snorking).

Finally, I want to say this: Tim Farley and I have had our differences. We fell into different, opposing camps in certain key issues and argued about that in the Social Networking World. But never for a moment did these differences bleed out into Tim’s thoughtful and effective campaign to represent all of us in this matter, and for my part I’m more than happy to appreciate his efforts and I sincerely thank him for that. The ability to work together even when we disagree is, or should be, a hallmark of real skepticism. The inability to do so is the hallmark of cliquish behavior and mean spirited Internetitude. Here, I think we did well.

Thanks again time.

And do go read his post, it is epic.

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Pick up your eCopy of the novella Sungudogo, a new origin story for the Skeptics Movement! (Bloggers and reviewers, contact me for a review copy)

Congratulations Debbie Goddard!

Debbie Goddard, one of my favorite people, and one of the reasons that the skeptics movement is worth keeping despite that fact that it can be annoying somehow, has just been appointed to a new position at CFI:

The Center for Inquiry (CFI) is proud to announce that Debbie Goddard, formerly CFI’s campus outreach coordinator, has accepted the position of Director of Outreach. She replaces Lauren Becker in that role, who has shifted to her new position as Director of Marketing, as previously announced.

“Debbie has been a part of the heart of CFI for a long time now, embodying what it means to be a dedicated CFI employee. She has given a great deal of herself to this organization and its cause: bringing about a world that values science, reason, and compassion over dogma and superstition,” said Ron Lindsay, CFI’s President and CEO. “We are all proud to see Debbie take on this crucial leadership role in which we know she will excel.”

Read the whole press release here.

Check Out Women in Secularism…

… in Free Inquiry.

Melody Hensley is the Guest Editor for an outstanding issue of the journal, with downloadable articles by Melody, Ophelia Benson, Rebecca Watson and Susan Jacoby. If you subscribe to the journal as I do, you also get to see items by Jennifer McCreight, Sikivu Hutchinson, Wafa Sultan and Jennifer Michael Hecht. And there is other stuff too.

Check it out.

Are you a Catholic?

And if so, are you against freedom to marry for all?

If not … if you are a Catholic AND you support, for instance, same-sex marriage, the YOU ARE A CHUMP and your beloved church is making a fool of you.

Catholic priest denies confirmation to teen who supports freedom to marry

The Catholic Church is fighting it’s members and is once again on the wrong side of history.

Last month, Lennon Cihak, a 17-year-old living in Barnesville, Minnesota, posted a picture of himself holding an altered ‘Vote Yes’ sign on his Facebook page.
Lennon markered out the ‘Vote Yes’ text and replaced it with ‘Vote No!’ He also changed the sign’s slogan to read, ‘Equal Marriage Rights!’ Shortly thereafter, Lennon’s mother, Shana Cihak, was called into a meeting with Rev. Gary LaMoine, the priest at Assumption Church, the Catholic church the Cihak family attends. LaMoine informed the family that Lennon would no longer be able to complete his confirmation because of his gay marriage stance.

Story here.

Volunteer Certificate

Here’s an idea, which I’ve started to promote HERE. If you want your representative in the legislature or congress to do something, tell them. But also, give them a certificate that promises them volunteer hours during the next election if they do what you want. Or, as in the case of THIS CERTIFICATE (PDF), promise them X hours for their next campaign, unless some important legislative thing does not happen, and then give them X/2 (half).