September 17 in freethought history…

marquisdecondorcetSeptember 17, 1743 – French philosopher and revolutionary Marquis de Condorcet is born in Ribemont, France. Among his accomplishments were the invention of a form of instant run-off voting (called the Condorcet method), and an essay in which he espoused the concept of human technological and moral progress. He was an active member of the French Revolution, but fell prey to the resultant internal conflicts. He was arrested and found dead in his cell in 1794, aged 50.

September 17, 2001 - On the TV talk show Politically Incorrect, conservative pundit Dinesh D’Souza’s criticizes political correctness in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, saying, “One of the themes we hear constantly is that the people who did this are cowards. Not true. Look at what they did. First of all, you have a whole bunch of guys who are willing to give their life. None of ’em backed out. All of them slammed themselves into pieces of concrete. These are warriors.” Host Bill Maher agreed, responding,”We [the United States] have been the cowards, lobbing cruise missiles from 2,000 miles away. That’s cowardly. Staying in the airplane when it hits the building, say what you want about it, it’s not cowardly.” Maher’s remarks created a firestorm, although some commentators (including conservative Dennis Prager) defended Maher. (D’Souza mysteriously escaped criticism, and his remarks were rarely included in subsequent soundbites.) The ABC television network cancelled Maher’s show at the end of the season, but denied it was related to his 9/11 comments.

September 17, 2014 – Skeptic and right-to-die advocate Gerald A. Larue dies in Newport Beach, California, aged 98. He was the first president of the Hemlock Society. The American Humanist Society named him Humanist of the Year in 1998.

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