Tag Archives: Twitter

Louise Mensch – a great loss to British politics. (via article in the Independent 27 February 2014)

imageFormer Conservative MP Louise Mensch scored a Twitter own goal whilst trying to convince her followers she was in touch with British Muslims, citing a political commentator who was actually of Sikh heritage.

In the wake of the sentencing of Lee Rigby’s killers, Mensch tweeted: “One of the aims of #LeeRigby’s murderers was to stir up religious hatred and we must not allow them to succeed in their aim. #Islam #Peace”

“When I think of British Muslims I think of @Mo_Farah @SayeedaWarsi @RaheemJKassam @SunnyHundal @YasminQureshiMP &c not these fools #LeeRigby”

Sunny Hundal was born to Sikh parents of Indian origin and despite having a beard, is not Muslim. He tweeted back at her “Erm, I’m not Muslim Louise. Parents are Sikh”.

After Twitter users criticised her for her mistake, Mensch argued: “I’ve thought he was Muslim for ages. Based on his politics, tweets.”

The two religious fanatics who murdered Lee Rigby screamed a final act of defiance in court yesterday as they fought with guards and were dragged from the dock prior to receiving a whole-life and life sentence respectively for their “sickening and pitiless” kill

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What Would Jesus Tweet? (from “Vanity Fair”)

  August 16 2013  By Bruce Handy

By Waiting for the Word/Flickr (Jesus). Phone Illustration by Alex Beggs.

Twitter doesn’t really need defending. Like any medium of communication—e-mail, blogs, newspapers, books, talking, yelling—it’s as good or bad as the people using it and the ideas being expressed. But that said, I find it irritating that the 140-character limit has become easy shorthand for the alleged shallowness of contemporary culture, a digital analogue (haha) to Andy Warhol’s 15 minutes of fame. Or, as PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel recently put it: “We need to think about the future for more than just 140 characters or 15 minutes at a time if we want to make real long-term progress.” In a similar vein, a friend and respected colleague of mine recently declared that seeking wisdom and insight on Twitter is a fool’s errand; that she wrote this on Twitter itself speaks to a growing school of self-loathing Tweeters, at least on my feed.

Contra Thiel, some thinkers might actually be better off sticking to 140 characters—right off the bat, Peggy Noonan, Leon Weiseltier, and Naomi Wolf come to mind—while my friend’s tweet made me curious about just how much insight and wisdom you can cram into 140 characters. Turns out, it worked great for Jesus, Descartes, Shakespeare, Emily Dickinson, Martin Luther King Jr., Fran Lebowitz, and Donald Rumsfeld.

A 140-character digest of Western culture:

I think, therefore I am. (24)

It’s funny because it’s true. (29)

I am large; I contain multitudes. (33)

Neither a borrower nor a lender be. (35)

Eighty percent of success is showing up. (40)

Let he who is without sin cast the first stone. (47)

The vice-presidency isn’t worth a pitcher of warm piss. (55)

Parting is all we know of heaven, and all we need of hell. (58)

It’s not the size of the ship; it’s the motion of the ocean. (60)

Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise. (68)

Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem. (73)

The opposite of talking isn’t listening. The opposite of talking is waiting. (76)

Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country. (79)

What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. (83)

I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. (113)

It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. (112)

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife. (117)

There is not a Black America and a White America and Latino America and Asian America; there’s the United States of America. (124)

There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. (123)

You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you can’t fool all the people all the time. (130)

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Dawkins, the Twitter 2

Please be quiet, Richard Dawkins, I’m begging, as a fan

By  Religion Last updated: August 8th, 2013


I really don’t want to write this piece. I have long worshipped Richard Dawkins and sort of wish I’d never started following him on Twitter because it’s ruining all my happy memories of The Blind Watchmaker.

But, I mean, come on.

He’s just tweeted the following:

  • All the world’s Muslims have fewer Nobel Prizes than Trinity College, Cambridge. They did great things in the Middle Ages, though.

— Richard Dawkins (@RichardDawkins) August 8, 2013


  • You can attack someone for his opinion. But for simply stating an intriguing fact? Who would guess that a single Cambridge College . . .

— Richard Dawkins (@RichardDawkins) August 8, 2013


  • Muslims aren’t a race. What they have in common is a religion. Rather than Trinity, would you prefer the comparison with Jews? Google it.

— Richard Dawkins (@RichardDawkins) August 8, 2013


He’s absolutely right on one level, of course: Islam is a religion, not a race, and it would be ridiculous to accuse someone of racism for criticising its tenets. For instance, I actually (sorry, Mehdi) agreed with him when he said it was odd that someone of Mehdi Hasan’s undoubted intelligence could believe that Mohammed was taken up to heaven on a wingèd horse. I mean, that just didn’t happen, let’s face it. I also agree with him that many Islamic theocracies are viciously repressive, and that many cultural practices carried out by some Muslims are horrible, notably female genital mutilation and honour killings.

But as Heresy Club’s Alex Gabriel writes:

Asserting that because Islam is a religion and not a race, one can never discuss it (or treat its followers) in racist ways makes about as much sense as saying that because ballet is an art form not a sexual identity, it’s impossible to say anything homophobic about male ballet dancers. Hip-hop musicians and immigrants aren’t races either, but commentary on both is very often racist – or at least, informed and inflected to a serious degree by racial biases.

Treating all Muslims as featureless representatives of their religion (as Dawkins does when saying things like “Who the hell do these Muslims think they are? How has UCL come to this: cowardly capitulation to Muslims? Tried to segregate sexes in debate between @LKrauss1 and some Muslim or other”) is – well, it may not be directly racist, but it’s certainly not the sort of thing Martin Luther King would admire. The content of their character, and all that.

Because Dawkins has gone from criticising the religion itself to criticising Muslims, as a vast bloc. They’re not individuals with names, they’re “these Muslims” or “some Muslim or other”, undifferentiated, without personhood. They haven’t managed to get very many Nobel prizes, presumably because they’re stupid, or brainwashed into zombiehood by their religion. Yes, it’s only a “fact”, but in different contexts, the same fact can have different meanings. For instance, would Dawkins have tweeted another fact, which is that Trinity also has twice as many Nobel prizes as all black people put together? It’s just as true, but presumably he doesn’t believe that it’s because black people aren’t as clever. Yet he is willing to make the equivalent inference about Muslims, without further evidence.

And here’s what’s really awful: he’s failing as a scientist. It might be true that Islam is holding back scientific and other achievement among Muslims. I actually wouldn’t be surprised if it were. But you don’t get to simply assert it, because there are far too many other variables. Islamic countries are themselves usually poorer than Western ones (and far poorer than the average Trinity alumnus). Their standards of public health are lower, nutrition, education, everything. Does the average Muslim do worse in the Nobel prize stakes than the average similarly deprived Christian or atheist or Hindu? I don’t know. You need to do proper analysis, statistical regression, to work that out. What’s worse, Dawkins knows that.

Dawkins may believe that he is criticising only the religion, and its effects on the people who hold it, rather than the people themselves (“don’t hate the player, hate the game”), but his gleeful hurling of rhetorical stick-bombs doesn’t make that sort of distinction. Is he being racist? Maybe not, depending on how narrowly you define it. But whatever he’s being, it’s not nice, and it certainly isn’t advancing the various causes of secularism, atheism or everyone just bloody getting along.

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August 10, 2013 · 21:20



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August 4, 2013 · 09:12

Dawkins the Twitter

from the Website of the Telegraph Media Group

Monday 29 July 2013

Tim Stanley


If we’re cracking down on Twitter abuse, can we include Richard Dawkins and the atheist trolls?


Richard Dawkins: a clever but horrible man

There’s a lot of talk at the moment about civilising Twitter – and it’s a conversation that we need to have. I’m not in favour of banning free speech, except when it’s an obvious incitement to violence, but there’s no denying that Twitter has become a bear pit. In the long run, that might not be an entirely bad thing. The invention of social media – an unregulated, semi-anonymous public space – has handed us a chance to explore what is and isn’t acceptable discourse in the Internet age. We’re in the process of building a new online etiquette, and it could teach us some self-discipline. We’re slowly learning that sticks and stones might break our bones, but words can hurt, too.

So this gives me an opportunity to flag up a particular kind of abuse that’s annoyed me for a long time: aggressive online atheism. Don’t get me wrong: this is in no way comparable to the terrible sexual abuse that has recently gained headlines. But it’s still amazing how people feel that they can casually mock the spiritual and emotional convictions of others – including Tweeting directly at believers that God doesn’t exist and they’re either liars or idiots for saying so. One man who does this with gay abandon is Richard Dawkins. Apparently Prof Dawkins is a genius who writes beautifully about chromosomes and cave men. Well, bully for him. But he’s a bully, nonetheless. A recent Tweet that caused a stir: “Don’t ask God to cure cancer & world poverty. He’s too busy finding you a parking space & fixing the weather for your barbecue.” Hilarious. Or on Islam: “Mehdi Hasan admits to believing Muhamed flew to heaven on a winged horse. And New Statesman sees fit to print him as a serious journalist.” Of course, that’s the same New Statesman that invited Dick Dawkins to edit it for a week – so, yeah, its taste is questionable.

Prof Dawkins is only sending out Tweets rather than Tweeting directly at individuals – which makes him more of a passive aggressive bully than the full on shove-you-head-down-a-toilet variety. But there are plenty of the alpha male atheists around and I’ve had many come knocking at my Twitter feed. I don’t hate them, I don’t want them banned, and they certainly don’t make me want to boycott Twitter. But I would like them, and the Neanderthal Dawkins, to consider the following.

When you insult my faith you go right to the heart of what makes me me. When you’re trying to convince me in 140 characters of sub-GCSE philosophical abuse that God doesn’t exist, you’re trying to take away the faith that gets me up in the morning, gets me through the day and helps me sleep at night. You’re ridiculing a God without whom I suspect I might not even be alive, and a God that I prayed to when my mother was going through cancer therapy. You’re knocking a Church that provides me with compassion and friendship without asking for anything in return – perhaps the greatest, most wonderful discovery of my adult life. You see, people don’t generally believe in God for reasons of convenience or intellectual laziness. It’s usually fulfilling a deep need – filling a soul with love that might otherwise be quite empty and alone. In short, when you try to destroy someone’s faith you’re not being a brilliant logician. You’re being a jerk.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m not calling for Dawkins or his ilk to be banned. I’m thick skinned and I can take the odd badly spelled Tweet telling me that I’m a simpleton. But if we are having a grown up conversation about what is and isn’t offensive, can we Christians, Jews, Muslims, Sikhs, Buddhists and All Of The Above be a part of it, too? Or is only liberal secularists who are allowed to take offence?


Our Dawkins
Who art at Oxford
Thy kingdom come
Thy will be done
In the rest of the world as in in Oxford
Give us this day your daily tweet
And forgive us our ignorance
For thine is the kingdom
The power and the glory
Forever and ever

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C of E Indulgences


The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has followed the lead of Pope Francis in offering indulgences for those who follow him on Twitter. There was widespread head-scratching earlier in the week at the announcement by the Vatican that the Papal court handling pardons for sins had ruled that contrite Catholics could gain ‘indulgences’ by following World Youth Day on Twitter.


The Anglican model is slightly different, as the doctrine of Purgatory and Indulgences are among those doctrines which the Church of England has discarded since its break from Rome. However, Archbishop Welby, sensing an opportunity for an easy win to please his home crowd, has ruled that PCC members who follow @ABCJustin or @LambethPalaceon Twitter will be able to download a voucher allowing them to leave PCC meetings after the first 90 minutes, even if they are the vicar.


A spokesperson for the Church of England said, “Like the Orthodox Church, we do not have a doctrine of Purgatory in the Church of England. Our official line is that this Roman idea ‘is a fond thing, vainly invented, and grounded upon no warranty of Scripture, but rather repugnant to the Word of God’. However, the Pope’s concept of Twitter-bribes to get his follower count up looked good to us. Who among the Anglican flock has not been trapped in an epic PCC meeting where having what amounts to a ‘Go home or to the pub’ card from the Archbishop of Canterbury would not have been a blessed relief from torment?.”




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July 26, 2013 · 10:22

Back to the Future

Papal court handling pardons for sins says contrite Catholics may win ‘indulgences’ by following World Youth Day on Twitter

  • Tom Kington in Rome
  • The Guardian, Tuesday 16 July 2013 
Pope Francis, at Vatican

A court of the Catholic church, led by Pope Francis, above, warns that the faithful cannot obtain lesser punishment just by ‘chatting online’. Photograph: Franco Origlia/Getty Images

In its latest attempt to keep up with the times the Vatican has married one of its oldest traditions to the world of social media by offering “indulgences” to followers of Pope Francis’ tweets.

The church’s granted indulgences reduce the time Catholics believe they will have to spend in purgatory after they have confessed and been absolved of their sins.

The remissions got a bad name in the Middle Ages because unscrupulous churchmen sold them for large sums of money. But now indulgences are being applied to the 21st century.

But a senior Vatican official warned web-surfing Catholics that indulgences still required a dose of old-fashioned faith, and that paradise was not just a few mouse clicks away.

“You can’t obtain indulgences like getting a coffee from a vending machine,” Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, head of the pontifical council for social communication, told the Italian daily Corriere della Sera.

Indulgences these days are granted to those who carry out certain tasks – such as climbing the Sacred Steps, in Rome (reportedly brought from Pontius Pilate’s house after Jesus scaled them before his crucifixion), a feat that earns believers seven years off purgatory.

But attendance at events such as the Catholic World Youth Day, in Rio de Janeiro, a week-long event starting on 22 July, can also win an indulgence.

Mindful of the faithful who cannot afford to fly to Brazil, the Vatican’s sacred apostolic penitentiary, a court which handles the forgiveness of sins, has also extended the privilege to those following the “rites and pious exercises” of the event on television, radio and through social media.

“That includes following Twitter,” said a source at the penitentiary, referring to Pope Francis’ Twitter account, which has gathered seven million followers. “But you must be following the events live. It is not as if you can get an indulgence by chatting on the internet.”

In its decree, the penitentiary said that getting an indulgence would hinge on the beneficiary having previously confessed and being “truly penitent and contrite”.

Praying while following events in Rio online would need to be carried out with “requisite devotion”, it suggested.

Apart from the papal Twitter account, the Vatican has launched an online news portal supported by an app, a Facebook page, and it plans to use the online social networking site Pinterest.

“What really counts is that the tweets the Pope sends from Brazil or the photos of the Catholic World Youth Day that go up on Pinterest produce authentic spiritual fruit in the hearts of everyone,” said Celli.

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The Wisest Man

The Wisest Man

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December 29, 2012 · 09:24

Good News to all Tweeters

Good News to all Tweeters

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December 14, 2012 · 13:33