The Kindness of Peaceful Religions
I am fully aware of the hypocrisy of so-called ‘peaceful religions’. And though I do get mad, on the most part I tend to ignore them. I don’t have to read the comments sections of online newspapers or of blogs of atheists that I enjoy reading to know of the idiots out there. I tend to avoid them because they make me angry and life is too short to have strangers online make me mad.
But there have been a few recent events that I haven’t been able, nor wanted, to ignore, and I just wanted to speak up about them. Before I do begin, I want to iterate that comments of “but these aren’t real *insert religious follower here*” or “but that’s not what *insert holy book of choice here* says” because honestly, that’s the “No True Scotsman” fallacy (look it up, educate yourselves) and I won’t have any of that here. For starters, I am perfectly aware of the contents of some of the ‘main’ holy texts, and secondly people like the ones I am about to talk about seem to be the rule rather than the exception. In fact the quote below taken from the comments section of JesusFetusFajitasFishsticks has probably the best description of it I’ve ever read:
Anonymous Jan 13, 2012 08:28 AM
@Jack: You misunderstand the fallacy. It is a fallacy *because* there is no such thing as an ideal “scotsman” that one can compare anyone against. The “true scotsman” always happens to be the person speaking. If there were such an ideal, you could always measure the closeness of an individual to being a “true scotsman”, and hence there would be no fallacy.
If someone calls themselves Christian, and claim at least the basis of Christian belief (Jesus as the Son of God, the Resurrection, etc…), then they are Christian, whether or not they match yours or anyone else’s ideal of what being a Christian means. So for someone to claim another person is not Christian because they don’t match their specific ideal is a fallacy; if it weren’t, no two Christians could ever recognize each other as being members of the same religion.
Anyways, all that aside the first thing I really want to talk about is pretty clear from the above link. One name: Jessica Ahlquist. If you don’t know who she is, she is the incredibly brave sixteen year old who, by winning a court case to uphold the First Amendment and have a prayer banner at her school removed (details here), has come up against the most disgusting and vile abuse not just online but from her own community. The JesusFetusFajitasFishsticks link has just some examples of what people have been sending her and it’s truly horrific.
But wait! That’s all happening in America. Surely things are better over here in lil’ old secular Britain?
Sadly no. Just this week there has been the case of a student-organised talk on sharia law at Queen Mary, University of London which had to be cancelled after threats of violence by a so-far unidentified Muslim man who burst in to the hall before the debate could begin. Details can be found here but I am amazed it has not made the national news. Not even The Daily Mail, that horrific institution that gives home to old-English racism and anti-Islam sentiment, seems to have picked up on the story.
And there has also been the case of Rhys Morgan, a seventeen year old Welsh schoolboy who was threatened with expulsion from his school for hosting a photo from the wonderful online comic Jesus and Mo (do not click that link if you’re likely to be offended… because you will be offended and it’s your own fault) on his personal Facebook page. After politely declining a request from an unnamed person to remove it, it degenerated into a heap of abuse aimed at him. You can read about the details on his blog.
How do people even think this is ok? In any way? Ok, so someone felt offended. You know what? You have the right to be offended. What you do not have the right to do is expect people to modify their behaviour just to stop you being offended. I get offended by people walking slowly in front of me when I’m in a rush. Do I punch them in the back of the head? No (no matter how much I’d like to!) My ears get offended by people singing along badly to my favourite songs in karaoke. Do I ban them from karaoke? No (especially because I definitely butcher songs when I sing but that isn’t the point!).
I spent a good part of today being mad about this. Then thought I was being silly. But then I realised that if people don’t stand up to this sort of hatred and abuse, then people are going to think that’s this is acceptable behaviour. And it’s not. No matter what your religion.