The Somali-born writer Ayaan Hirsi Ali was to be the commencement speaker next month at Brandeis University, named for former Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis. But voices of hysteria, censorship, and bullying won the day and Brandeis University’s president rescinded the invitation and the honorary degree she was to receive because of Hirsi Ali’s outspoken criticism of the widespread Islamic degradation and denigration of women.
Freethought philosophy and practice spring from the conviction that opinions should be based on logic, reason, and empiricism, rather than on authority, tradition, or religious and political dogma. Modern freethought can be traced to the execution in 1600 of the Dominican friar, teacher, author, mathematician, and astronomer Giordano Bruno by the Inquisition. The pansy, pictured to the left in some of its varied colors, is the long-established and enduring symbol of freethought, its usage inaugurated in the literature of the American Secular Union in the late 1800s.The pansy derives its name from the the French word for thought – pensée; it was so named because the flower resembles a human face, and in mid-to-late summer it nods forward as if deep in thought. [Source: Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-founder of the Freedom From Religion Foundation]
The proposal, reported in the Austin American-Statesman on April 12, to create a new system for the appointment of attorneys who represent poor criminal defendants in Travis County may have merit if there is sufficient accountability provided in the new system, a factor largely missing from the current court-appointed process.