Skepchick Quickies 2.18

  • Gay Penguins! Hide the Children! – The children’s book that tells the story of a pair of male penguins who adopt an egg of their own is one of the most challenged in libraries over the past couple of years.
  • Should Atheists Vote in the Upcoming Election? – American Atheists president Ellen Johnson says no. The Friendly Atheist says that atheism is only one issue among many that needs to be considered (which seems to me a good way to look at it). What do the rest of the Skepchicks think?
  • Did Birds Originate When Dinosaurs Went Extinct? – “A new analysis … offers the strongest molecular evidence yet for an ancient origin of modern birds, suggesting that they arose more than 100 million years ago, not 60 million years ago, as fossils suggest.”
  • The Case for Settling – Hey, all you old maids – might as well just give up and marry some guy you can tolerate, because you all secretly want nothing but marriage and kids.


Jen is a writer and web designer/developer in Columbus, Ohio. She spends too much time on Twitter at @antiheroine.

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  1. What Donna said.

    I've been forced to be a lesser-of-two-evils, single issue voter for my entire voting life and this election will be no different.

    Gay penguins are love!

    And that settling article makes me want to vomit. A husband is cheaper than a nanny… boy THERE'S a reason to get hitched.

  2. I think that the Supreme Court argument is BY FAR the best one in favor of voting Democratic this time around. Despite NOT considering myself a Democrat or even a "liberal" in today's most common usage, I've never voted for a non-Left candidate largely BECAUSE of this issue.

    As for the "not voting" thing, well, I can sometimes understand that. I'm originally from Connecticut, a state where (in recent years at least) the Democratic presidential candidate always wins handily. It doesn't REALLY matter how I vote, or if I do at all, as it's a foregone conclusion and my state is hardly consequential.

    However, and in this election in particular, voter turnout is likely to be higher than EVER before, especially if we end up with McCain vs. Obama. This MAY seem to make any one vote inconsequential. However, it could also mean that old rules do not apply as blocs of previously-unconcerned people decide to vote. So to me there's really no excuse at this stage NOT to vote.

  3. I'm a little torn over this election, because I've always been a very principled third-party voter. But since this is a more severe situation, I might end up voting Democratic. Plus, I live in Ohio, which is generally a battleground. I may prefer a much larger, revolution-style change, but little steps are better than nothing.

  4. One-issue voting is almost always stupid, but most especially so when the one issue is something superficial like religious identification. Obama and Clinton both have a personal faith, sure, but their policy positions are purely secular. I, for one, am perfectly comfortable that.

    And, honestly, no group has ever gained in influence by staying home on election day. It's a recipe for further marginalisation, is all that is.

  5. If the single-issue voting disagreers were addressing me at all, my issue isn't religion. It's women's/gay rights (since the two so often go hand in hand).

  6. Ellen Johnson is crazy awesome. A majority of Supreme Court Justices voting to tear down church/state separation isn't an atheist issue AT ALL. It's better to stand on principle and not vote for a theist of either party than to vote for a believer who might be the only thing standing between the religious majority and your right not to believe. You go girl!

    I wonder if she can hear me with her ears embedded so deeply in her large intestine.

    Also – I want a gay penguin!

  7. It is critical to get a Democrat into the oval office this time, or the Supreme Court will be completely overrun by justices who think religion should be married to government. If you want to live in a free, secular society, vote. It is folly to think that abstaining from voting will help in any way. Anyone who does not vote or who votes Republican in this coming election is, frankly, stupid. And, yes, that’s what I really think.

  8. Shame on Ellen Johnson, who I’ve “known” for years. Last night I spent 80 minutes listening to Barack Obama’s speeches on religion from 2006 and in January 2008, and the 2006 speech IS the best one I’ve ever heard from a politician. He most certainly addresses non-believers and he most certainly addresses that believers need to argue their views in universal terms because we ARE a pluralistic nation.

    If you have 80 minutes to spare, watch this and this.

    Sometimes my fellow atheists embarrass me, and I’ve been a non-believer my whole life – no conversion, no crisis of faith – I’m a diehard. Yet even I realize that being SO hardheaded on this issue won’t work. Bah, I’ve explored this issue throughly, so it bugs me that she didn’t. And to sit out this election doesn’t do a damn bit of good. Incremental steps need to be taken, like it or not.

  9. Another great batch of links Jen! :)

    I have to admit, that article about settling made me want to punch the computer screen. I mean, I can understand how people want to be loved, yadda yadda, but settling kind of seems like the opposite of that. I mean, why would anyone settle for someone who they didn’t really love or care about? I find that would be unfair to both parties involved. What’s wrong with being alone anyhow? Not everyone needs constant companionship.

  10. Expatria: Connecticut has changed a bit and is a fairly unpredictable state. We had a Republican governor for over 10 years (fortunately booted out for criminal mischief). This year we were more relevant, however small the number of delegates, in a winner-take-all state, it makes a difference. I was really surprised that my hometown, which was always heavily Republican, had more people turn out for the Democrats. Odd state. :-)

  11. I think you really need to vote. I’m not sure how abstaining from the vote helps your cause… it’s just not possible that someone is going to match up with your beliefs and values 100%. Everything is a trade off, and I think voting only based on atheism is as silly as voting (or not voting) based on any single issue. But really, if people really want change it seems to make sense to get involved with local/regional politics to make sure that the people who go to the top are those who represent you.

  12. I never understood the whole "settling for the sake of family" thing, and it still seems wrong to me – at the very least, it's unfair to the man you're marrying, who expects that you feel the same way he does.

    I think what she's really saying is that women are looking for the wrong things in a husband, and she's trying to combine that assertion with the "settling for less than you expect" idea, and imply that it's all one issue, which is simply not the case.

  13. UGH! “The Case for Settling” makes me want to puke. She uses freaking TV sitcoms as arguments! WTF? Also, apparently being a beard for a closeted gay man is preferable to being single? What kind of messed up world does she live in?

    And I 100% agree with Donna… not voting is the wrong way to go in this election!

  14. I would say even if he’s not the love of your life, make sure he’s someone you respect intellectually, makes you laugh, appreciates you …

    Sounds like her settling is my dream guy, and I married him. I suppose that most people don’t find those qualities to love?

    Amanda, I understand your position and Ellen Johnson’s too. I don’t think it’s about boycotting the election, but about organizing as a group and saying, “Hey, if you want to get elected, you’ll do something for us too.”

    I’m sick of electing a candidate that goes four years doing noting… although that’s better than 8 years screwing up the country. I’m sick of selecting between ick and meh.

    And what has the Democratic majority in congress bought us? Not really much.

  15. In my opinion, Ellen Johnson is more of an embarrassment than an asset to scientific skepticism. American Atheists has yet to haul itself out of the muck of its history of weirdness.

  16. Not wanting to be the foreigner teaching you all about your own political system, but, aren't the actual elections later this year?

    The primaries are just to select which candidate will be on the ballot during that election. so it really doesn't matter which democrat you vote for now, as long as you vote for a democrat on the actual elections.


    I mean, anyone who tells you not to vote for the actual elections is crazy. Did you all just misunderstand? Or did I misunderstand?

  17. ExArch wrote:

    I mean, anyone who tells you not to vote for the actual elections is crazy. Did you all just misunderstand? Or did I misunderstand?

    Not sure what you're getting at. Johnson admonishes us not to vote in the (upcoming) general election. Much less the caucuses and primaries.

    And it certainly does matter who you vote for in the primaries. Not all Democrats are cut from the same cloth. Nor Republicans. McCain is a good example. Any minimal amount of lip service he pays to the religious right is obviously just that. Huckabee, on the other hand…. Of course, McCain's got other baggage, but I'm just making the point that's important to participate in even the candidate selection process.

    Johnson is cracked.

  18. I agree with skidoo – individuals, to me, are more important than parties. In fact, I really dislike the lock our two-party system has on American politics. Plus, if you don't have an existing party affiliation (like me) and your state allows you to vote in the primaries for whichever party you wish (like me), the decision is more complicated.

    I also agree that while I don't want to see the Republicans in control at all, McCain scares me a LOT less than Huckabee does. That man is insane. Even his numerous Colbert Report appearances can't redeem him.

  19. So as a democrat, in this instance, you'd be better off voting for one of the republican nominees in the primaries, just to try and eliminate the candidates that are too crazy from the republican ballot?

  20. Well, I think that's one strategy, although I was just trying to underscore the differences between individual candidates. Luckily, I don't think Huckabee has much of a chance anymore at the nomination.

  21. I LOVED the penguin book! It's so cute – everyone should read it if they get the chance. I try to do a "banned books" display every year at my library (I'm a librarian!), and it's always the best books that get banned or challenged. Sigh.

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