Wednesday, June 19, 2013

straw men with thin skins

My nose is stuffed up, the plants on the porch are probably wilting, the dog kept me up last night, and it's near the end of the day, and it's beautiful out, but I'm in need of sleep and won't get it tonight.

And I think I offended someone's religious beliefs, which is ironic given that I actually have religious beliefs, and said person doesn't. Most of the people in my world are agnostic or uninterested or unaffiliated or non-theistic, no doubt due in part to the milquetoast catholic schooling we received.

Given that most of my tastes run to the stranger side of the subcultural realm, I'm used to being the only person in any given social gathering who's eating vegan food or nodding along to some doom metal band and then sitting in a pew come Sunday morning and while it can sometimes be awkward, it's something I don't mind. It's a little bemusing to hear the comments about fundies and freakos who believe in skygods who obviously hate everyone and then they realize that you're one of those people and a little weird too, and get the occasion, I hate those people but you're ok, which if directed at some other group would come across as way not okay but whatever.

So I like a good smart discussion because I find others' views interesting and whatnot and generally there's enough history and mutual affection that we'll still be friends by the end of it. Most of the time, we can find some common ground on other things or mutual understanding or what-have-you even if we think the other person is more than a little misguided. I'm used to a certain level of discourse, I guess, and I get spoiled and forget that other people don't take opposing views nearly so well.

But what I don't have patience for is blanket statements that ignore realities and rely on a very narrow view of history. So yes, we can talk about violence in the middle east that's religiously motivated, but heaven forbid that I suggest that in all societies where there's an overarching ideology or credo, that dissenters are stifled either socially or destroyed bodily. And to be offended by a simple disagreement or by raising another point that destroys the framework of convenience, no matter who you are, if you take it that personally, then maybe there's a problem with that belief system.

Whether that's "heretics" in the middle ages or "dhimmi" in Al-Andalus or Shia/Sunni or Hindu/Muslim in Kashmir or Hindu/Buddhist in Bhutan, or the usual scumbags like Stalin or Hitler or Pol Pot. You can't bring up the stake-burners without also acknowledging the genocidaires of atheism, kids. And just because you and I never killed anyone doesn't mean that people haven't died or gotten royally screwed by the actions of those who shared our respective views.

Even if we lived in a Crass Crust Punk Utopia of no gods, no masters, no flags, we'd still find ways to kill each other and construct divisions and Others to be enemies and scapegoats. Our early ancestors sure did. And I'm sure people take crap for being atheists, but as far as I can tell, everyone takes crap where they're a minority, see Muslims in NYC por ejemplo. The rest of us really can't complain about non-state persecution or social ostracism, especially among friends and comrades.

1 comment:

  1. I can't believe the police fell for that, "Oh, this is just my monk habit" routine. Dummies.

    I love your post, it made me laugh, and I can always use a good laugh.