Gestures and Actions after the Murder of a Child

Today marks the funeral of Hailey Owens. Leading up to this day we have seen thousands of people from all faiths and no faith take to the streets grieve and to support the Owens family.

Last Saturday, the Skepticrew in Springfield were a part of a vigil of almost 10,000 people. It was awkward and beautiful, as one would expect from a short-notice procession run by volunteers. People brought and shared candles. Up and down the line, a woman passed out tin foil to keep hot wax off fingers. When my friend’s back injuries from Iraq acted up, a local business lent a chair so he could still participate. People locked themselves together, arm-in-arm, to ensure that there would be no disrupting the procession.  Some sang hymns, others chanted Kaddish, the majority kept a respectful silence. It was beautiful.

Credit Eric Wells


As beautiful as it is, this gesture is not enough. Many came to grieve and to support the family, others came to spite Westboro. So many people comment about how this is shocking- their eyes now open to new dangers and fears. Others were never blind the tragedies happening in our community.

Unless prudent action comes out of this, every shocked face, every tear, every outpouring of community support is empty community theatre.  Politicians will congratulate themselves on passing new laws with harsher punishments that never would have prevented the crime in the first place. Facebook profiles will be left changed for weeks. These well-intentioned gestures are worthless compared to prudent action.

There is nothing that can undo this tragedy. There may not be a feasible way to prevent such a crime in the future. However, if you care about children in your community, there are kids in your community in tough times that you can help. There are countless ways to help- one way is to get involved with Big Brothers Big Sisters.

Volunteer now or donate here.

Blood Drive Success!

It’s official, you people are amazing.

The Community Blood Center of the Ozarks has reported that we went beyond our requirements by over 50%. Your generosity kept them busy the entire time they were here and they can’t wait to come back.

If you missed  out on this blood drive, you can help blood drives in the future by signing a petition with The Banned4Life Project. The petition is against the FDA’s ban on the blood of men who have had sex with men. You can sign online here or in person at the check-in desk (petitions are next to the voter registration cards).

To all of you who donated: We have your names (you rockstars, you). Stop by the check-in desk for a free high hive.

Typhoons are bad.

Skepticon is officially taking a controversial stance on typhoons: typhoons are bad. Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) is beyond awfulHaiyan-nasa.

You can help in two big ways at Skepticon.

This Friday at 1PM, Dale McGowan, founder of Foundation Beyond Belief is skyping in to Skepticon’s main stage to talk about the typhoon and how the humanist community is coming together to help with this and other disasters in the future. Expect hats to be passed at the event, but you don’t have to wait to contribute, click here.

If you’re short on cash and still want to help, next door to Skepticon is an event called Meals a Million. There you will be able to pack meals that fight hunger around the world. This year, they are sending a portion of its food to the Philippines as part of the relief effort. Space is very limited, but to help keep them working at capacity, Skepticon’s volunteers will be announcing opportunities to get involved.


There will be a blood drive at Skepticon on Friday Nov. 15 from 1-5 PM.



For this new project, the Community Blood Center of the Ozarks is bringing a truckload of beds and a small army of volunteers.  Let’s dazzle them and make them wish they brought another truck!

Get involved and sign up early. Sign-ups will be available in the morning.

The drive itself will happen in the Atrium (the big room outside all the workshops).  See you there!

P.S. Regardless of if you are donating, stop by and sign a petition to take remove the ban on gay blood. Because gay panic is lame.

SK6 Launches Super Serious Schism



When you check in, you will be given a colored armband and an important mission: Win.

It’s the ultimate showdown of Red Team vs Team Blue and it could decide everything. Help your team win points to achieve victory and get the  TOTALLY AWESOME PRIZE!* How do you get in on this? At Skepticon, you can give blood, register to vote, even pack meals for Africa. There are also secret shenanigans to be announced at the event.

Make sure your friends are registered so that they can take part in the antics.

*High fives, bragging rights, and compliments to your attention to footnotes.