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FF Top Ten: May 23, 2010

Work piled up during the last couple of days, and quite frankly, it has been hell; A very fun and intellectually stimulating, mind you . Two of my magazine editors dumped six articles worth of work on my lap just last week, and it was frantic enough trying to get all that in before last Sunday that I had to put the news updates on hold.

Now that we’re back, one of the recent hot topics is Draw Muhammad Day. This event is intended to be a public protest against the limited freedom of speech imposed by Islamic regimes, and as you may have guessed, it has drawn a lot of fire.

Another matter that needs mentioning is the case of George Rekers, a board member of the strongly anti-gay NARTH movement. Rekers is himself a consultant for various other rightwing anti-gay movements in the US, which makes this latest news about him all the more ironic: He was caught red-handed in the company of a professional rent boy.

Even more damning than that however is a news report covering Rekers previous work on developing therapy to “cure” children of their homosexuality. Here is a segment of the report:

In 1974, Rekers, a leading thinker in the so-called ex-gay movement, was presented with a 4-year-old “effeminate boy” named Kraig, whose parents had enrolled him in the program. Rekers put Kraig in a “play-observation room” with his mother, who was equipped with a listening device. When the boy played with girly toys, the doctors instructed her to avert her eyes from the child.

According to a 2001 account in Brain, Child Magazine, “On one such occasion, his distress was such that he began to scream, but his mother just looked away. His anxiety increased, and he did whatever he could to get her to respond to him… Kraig became so hysterical, and his mother so uncomfortable, that one of the clinicians had to enter and take Kraig, screaming, from the room.”

Rekers’s research team continued the experiment in the family’s home. Kraig received red chips for feminine behavior and blue chips for masculine behavior. The blue chips could be cashed in for candy or television time. The red chips earned him a “swat” or spanking from his father. Researchers periodically entered the family’s home to ensure proper implementation of the reward-punishment system.

After two years, the boy supposedly manned up. Over the decades, Rekers, who ran countless similar experiments, held Kraig up as “the poster boy for behavioral treatment of boyhood effeminacy.”

At age 18, shamed by his childhood diagnosis and treatment, Rekers’s poster boy attempted suicide, according to Gender Shock, a book by journalist Phyllis Burke. Rekers, whose early experiments were the first to ostensibly demonstrate a “gay cure,” resigned from the National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) last week, after it was revealed the gay escort had given him nude sexual massages. NARTH, however, stands by his science.

Another interesting non-religion news topic you might to catch up on is the recent development of a computer algorithm for detecting sarcasm in comment posts in While I do think that it’s an awesome invention (and I’m not being sarcastic 😉 ), I can’t help but feel disappointed that we have now gotten to the point we need a bloody computer program to tell us when somebody is being sarcastic or not.

Whatever happened to good-old-fashioned common sense?

In any case, be sure to send in any interesting news you find over to the News Thread.

Hypocrisy: Anti-gay Christian activist’s luggage found in rent boy (via Miami New Times) Link

Brazilian Archbishop defends church, claims they’re just saving teens from their inner gayness (via Telegraph UK) Link

Op-Ed: Ten Ways Christians Fail at Being Christian (via Huffington Post) Link

Muhammad-drawing Swedish Cartoonist attacked during lecture (via The Sydney Morning Herald) Link

Iranian cleric counters Boobquake events, claims god sometimes attacks a nation as show of love. God is my psycho ex? (via AP News) Link

Nun excommunicated for allowing life-saving emergency abortion on mother (via The Freethinker) Link

Arabian firefighters may now save girls from fires too. In other news: What took them so long? (via The Puzzled Ponderer) Link

Idiocracy cometh: Texas School board removes references for Thomas Jefferson and US’ slave trade past from history classes (via Guardian UK) Link

Pakistan: We’re fine with suicide bombers, oppressing women, and killing nonbelievers. But drawing stick figures of Muhammad? You’re going down, bub! (via Yahoo News) Link

Scientists develop computer algorithms for detecting sarcasm. Still no word on BS detector or gaydar. (via Popular Science) Link

DISCLAIMER: The opinions in this post do not necessarily represent the position of the Filipino Freethinkers.