The humiliation of 9th grade student Ahmed Mohamed

The title of this article deliberately mirrors that of Dr. Jerry Coyne’s article at Why Evolution Is True. I agree with Dr. Coyne that we have created a society in which “infractions” that three decades ago when I was in primary school would have been ignored or, at most, resulted in a lecture about how to behave now result in police arrest. This is both counterproductive and idiotic.

We have to stop thinking in terms of “security at all costs”. I’m tired of taking off my shoes when flying. I’m tired of taking off my belt when reporting for jury duty at the San Jose Federal court. Which happened two years ago and will likely be repeated when I report for jury duty again this coming monday.

Below is the mail I sent to the Irving, TX police department prior to reading Dr. Coynes article.

from:   Kurtis Rader 
to:     lboyd@cityofirving.org, bredburn@cityofirving.org, jspivey@cityofirving.org, bjolley@cityofirving.org
date:   Fri, Sep 18, 2015 at 6:31 PM
subject:        the arrest of 9th grade student Ahmed Mohamed

I'm a 54 year old white male software engineer who grew up in a middle class suburban family that attended a Protestant church. In other words I'm a member of a demographic you could reasonably expect to support you. Yet every time I read about incidents like the arrest of 9th grade student Ahmed Mohamed I become more firmly convinced the police cannot be trusted to exercise good judgement and it is reasonable for me and my neighbors to fear an encounter with the police.

In my opinion the officers involved in that incident are not competent to issue parking tickets let alone arrest people. And your department's defense that

    “It could reasonably be mistaken as a device if left in a bathroom or under a car. The concern was, what was this thing built for? Do we take him into custody?”

and that you

    wanted "a broader explanation" from the teen

is absurd. Hang your heads in shame.

P.S., I'm also appalled at the behavior of the school staff. Your officers should have defused the situation (pun intended) instead of escalating tensions. Get a fucking grip.

P.S., I’ve included the “religion” tag on this post because I strongly suspect that the skin color and name of the student, suggesting he is a Muslim, was a factor in how he was treated. I have no love for Islam. As an atheist I dislike all religions. Nonetheless I feel it is wrong to discriminate against a person solely due to the religion you believe they adhere to.

Glenn Greenwald vs Sam Harris on Chapel Hill Murders

I’ve been a fan of Glenn Greenwald for over a decade. He was the primary reason I was a paid subscriber to Salon. I’ve purchased most of his books on politics. I still value his views on politics and think his new venture, The Intercept is extremely valuable. But I have lost all respect for his views on religion and have therefore “unfollowed” him on Twitter. I have disagreed with Mr. Greenwald about religion in general and Islam in particular for several years. This post by Sam Harris and monologue was the tipping point.

Sorry, Glenn, but you’ve sided with the idiot Islam apologist Reza Aslan one too many times.

Christian American female decides to wear a burqa

This article is another indicator that American Christians have more in common with the Taliban and other fundamentalist Muslims than they like to admit. Ms. Partridge says she won’t be wearing tight-fitting clothing any more because she doesn’t want to entice men to look at her. My recommendation is she wear a burqa or, better yet, just stay home and never venture out in public. Oh, wait, that isn’t my recommendation. That’s the recommendation of religious fundamentalists. I’ll never understand that sort of obsession and shame regarding the human body. Especially from people who believe God made us in his perfect image.

Dear Muslim, I don’t care if these cartoons offend you

Update 2015-01-28: Watch the second half of this video by the British Humanist Association wherein David Silverman makes the same point I do below.


Update 2015-01-16: Please watch this YouTube video by Mr. Deity for why Pope Francis is wrong to condone violence against those who criticize religious beliefs.


Update 2015-01-11: Please see this article by Jerry Coyne and Matthew Cobb for more about Charlie Hebdo’s equal opportunity lampooning. Also, this article by the American Humanist Association.


Please note I have no more enmity for Islam than I do for Christianity or any other religion. No religion gets to impose their religious dogma on non-members of your faith tradition. Neither do you get to censor speech you deem offensive to your religious sensibilities. No one has a “right” not to be offended. I am offended by your stupidity and behavior. That does not grant me the right, let alone duty, to kill you. You are doing more to turn people away from Islam than your perceived enemies could hope to achieve on their own.

These articles by Charles P. Pierce and P.Z. Myers, as well as every other article at FreeThought Blogs, deserve a read given that you are reading my thoughts on the matter.

The following commentary is from the HuffingtonPost article by Catherine Taibi where I obtained these images.

“Charlie Hebdo gained notoriety in 2006 for its portrayal of a sobbing Muhammad, under the headline “Mahomet débordé par les intégristes” (“Muhammad overwhelmed by fundamentalists”). Within its pages, the magazine published 12 cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, bringing unprecedented condemnation from the Muslim world. The French Council for the Muslim Faith eventually sued the weekly for the cartoon. The issue has since been considered the one which positioned Charlie Hebdo as a target for terrorist attacks.”

Muhammad overwhelmed by fundamentalists
Charlie Hebdo cartoon “Muhammad overwhelmed by fundamentalists”

Before a French court sided with Charlie Hebdo in the lawsuit, in 2007, another cartoon was published with the text “”Charlie Hebdo must be veiled!”

Charlie Hebdo must be veiled!
Charlie Hebdo cartoon “Charlie Hebdo must be veiled!”

In 2011, headlined by a cartoon reading “100 lashes if you don’t die of laughter,” an issue invited Muhammad to be a “guest editor” for the weekly. The Charlie Hebdo offices were firebombed following its publication.”

100 lashes if you don't die of laughter
Charlie Hebdo cartoon: 100 lashes if you don’t die of laughter”

Charlie Hebdo’s website was hacked following a 2011 cartoon depicting the Prophet Muhammad as gay.

cartoon depicting the Prophet Muhammad as gay
Charlie Hebdo cartoon depicting the Prophet Muhammad as gay

The weekly received backlash again in 2012 after publishing a cartoon criticizing religious Muslims and Jews.

cartoon criticizing religious Muslims and Jews
Charlie Hebdo cartoon criticizing religious Muslims and Jews

In a more recent issue, the magazine published a cartoon depicting a member of the Islamic State group beheading Muhammad.

cartoon depicting a member of the Islamic State group beheading Muhammad
Charlie Hebdo cartoon depicting a member of the Islamic State group beheading Muhammad