Making Fun of Religious Beliefs of Others

Reader Maxwell asks what it is that I find particularly hateful about the post ridiculing a beautiful passage from the New Testament that I linked to in my previous post.

Making fun of the religious beliefs of others is wrong. How would you feel about a person who stops next to a Muslim performing the namaz and starts laughing and pointing their finger at the praying person? Or somebody who loudly ridicules the Jews for wearing kipas? Or somebody who writes a blog post saying, “Those Hindus are beyond stupid. They actually believe that cows are sacred. What idiots”?

It’s perfectly fine not to share the religious beliefs of others or not to have any religious beliefs. But to approach a complex system of beliefs of a huge group of people from the point of view of a guffawing idiot who is proud of being ignorant of said religious worldview is a sign of nothing but sheer idiocy.

Religions, atheism and agnosticism are ways in which people approach the most important, fundamental questions of their existence. Where did I come from? What happens to me after I die? What is the purpose of my existence? How do I determine the moral code that guides me? Everybody has the right to answer these questions in the way they choose for themselves. This is a deeply intimate issue. It is more intimate than sex because, ultimately, you cannot share either your conscience or your death with anybody. And making fun of the way that some people have found to address these fundamental issues of existence is a lot worse than ridiculing others from not practicing their sexuality in the same way you do.

Now, let’s forget for a moment that the blogger in question ridiculed a passage from a book that many people consider to be holy. Let’s just say that s/he took a quote from any work of literature that has existed for centuries and has been treasured by many and ridiculed it in the “Sheesh, this is totally stupid because I don’t get what it is about” manner. As a literature professor, I have had my classes brought down to this level on a variety of occasions by students who are too dense even to attempt to see the beauty of Quevedo’s poetry and Calderon’s plays. As one student wrote on the course evaluation, “I don’t get why we had to read the poetry from 1,000 years ago. This was so long ago, who even cares any more?”

As my prof used to say, if it seems to you like everybody else in the room is an idiot, there is probably just one idiot in that room and that idiot is you. And it might just be possible that the countless people who enjoyed this text and were inspired by it were not completely deluded.

Sunday Link Encyclopedia and Self-Promotion

A brilliant post: “I hate this “I choose my choice” feminism. We do not have choices, in a lot of cases. The decision to participate in the nuclear family, to work in the waged labour force, to make sacrifices in one’s career for the sake of raising children, even the decision about what kinds of clothing to wear are constrained by material circumstances, they are not made in a vacuum.”

Yes: “This may be the first time many of you have heard this, given the high pedestal parents are put upon in American culture, but read my lips: you are not a fucking saint for providing for your own fucking children, that you chose to bring into this world. For whatever reason, under whatever circumstances, you chose to become a parent. . . Expecting that your child is obligated to worship at your feet for providing her basic needs is indicative of a very sociopathic, abusive mind. . . I’m sick of parents bestowing sainthood on themselves, and losing their shit when their children don’t treat them as such.” Once again, yes.

Romantic notions of farming as being some sort of “pure” work which is spiritually and emotionally enduring compared to city life has transformed into an entire cottage industry, appealing to city dwellers’ romantic notions of farming. . . It would appear that people who romanticise life in “the East”, or who wish to get “back in touch with nature” misunderstand nature and “the East” more than any other group.” I couldn’t agree more. What a great post this is. Highly recommended.

The Republicans in a major meltdown: “As Republicans lose ownership of what had been their strongest issues — national security and business — all the ugly muck at the depths of their ids are rising to the surface. Finally, there is nothing left but the primordial concern gnawing at their bones all these years — sex.

A very stupid person makes fun of a passage from the Bible (my favorite one, actually) and seems extremely proud of being an unintelligent, hateful jerk who thinks that being incapable of understanding complex texts is a badge of honor.

An insightful essay on why campus-wide smoking bans are stupid, endangering, offensive and wrong. The brilliant professor who wrote this essay is one of the very few people to point out that the current anti-smoking hysteria is paid for by pharmaceutical companies that want to peddle their smoking-cessation pills and patches.

Nice Guys aren’t found in the wild. But where do they come from? This is the question this great post answers.

A brilliant parody of the “What Are Women For?” article.

You don’t need to be a jerk to be an atheist. An important post on disturbing trends in the atheist community.

Seems like we have not seen the end of the Kennedy reign in the American politics. Now a representative of the new generation of Kennedys is running for office. I agree with this blogger who says enough with the nepotism in politics. Being somebody’s child, grandchild, wife or niece was only a good qualification for political office in times of monarchy.

Of course, it’s easy to disregard in the midst of the Republican anti-women campaign but President Obama keeps making these very disturbing sexist jokes about his daughters. And this helps reinforce the environment where women’s bodies always belong to some man.

Ron Paul: Trying to Take Away Constitutional Protections since 2004.

A short but wonderful post on how one blogger doesn’t let the Komen people pretend like no revelations about them have been made recently.

Is capitalism in crisis? “I do not believe that capitalism is in a real crisis, partly because the defects in financial and housing markets can be corrected to a significant extent. More importantly, reliance on competitive capitalism has been the only way that countries have been able to reduce poverty and continue to grow over long periods of time.”

And this is the most beautiful skyline in the world. Disagree with me on this at your own peril.

A very good (and a very short) short story.

Millions of Americans – despite witnessing an extremely loud and incredibly close prescription pill epidemic – seem wedded to a sense of themselves as chemically dependent.”

Experiencing chronic pain is not “just part of life” and people who suffer from chronic pain should not be dismissed.

The similarities between Obama’s, Santorum’s and Gingrich’s economic policies. I’ve never read any similar analysis anywhere before but it rings very true to me. Politicians love to distract us by loud screeching about sex and religion from the sad truth that they are bought and paid for by the same group of lobbyists.

Rick Santorum attacked President Obama on Saturday for his theology. Although people assumed that Santorum was, like other conservatives, hinting around that Obama is not a Christian but rather a secret Muslim, Santorum denied this allegation. . . What is remarkable is that it is Santorum who sounds like a Muslim fundamentalist. And ultimately maybe what he is saying is that Obama isn’t Muslim enough.”

A beautiful post on stimming.

And the title of the best post of the week goes to this brilliant post on patriarchal projections: “Patriarchal projections might not appear obviously what they are — which is to say, projections — just because they often rely upon a framing device to change the meaning of an event, depending upon whether the subject is male or female.  What is projected it the idea of female inferiority, which seems to be confirmed by any unusual event in the life of any woman.”

Are We in the Second Great Depression?

I read the following argument that we are experiencing the second Great Depression but it didn’t convince me:

But that doesn’t mean we’re not in another Great Depression, either. As you know, I think we are, based on the misery visited on the vast majority of the population since the recession began in 2007. What I’m thinking about are the following: the high level and long duration of unemployment (and the length of time over which both have persisted), the extraordinary number of home foreclosures, the difficulty in obtaining adequate medical care, the unprecedented rise in student debt, the growing ranks of poor people (and near-poor people), and so on. So, in my view, while there’s been a recovery for a tiny minority of the population (based on the return to record profits for U.S. corporations, the resurgence of the stock market, and the high salaries and growing wealth of those at the top), the best characterization for the situation in which the working classes find themselves is the Second Great Depression.

I’m always bothered by the tendency that many people have to stretch analogies way too far. This always leads to the complete erosion of significant concepts. As a result, we end up in a situation where “Nazi” is synonymous with “bad person” and “Holocaust” is a description of a dieting choice.

What do you think? Do you see the current economic crisis as the Second Great Depression?

P.S. I just read the Wikipedia article on the Great Depression and found the following insulting statement in it:

The fall of communism in the Soviet Union led to a severe economic crisis and catastrophic fall in the standards of living in the 1990s in the former Eastern Bloc, most notably, in post-Soviet states, that was almost twice as intense as the Great Depression had been in the countries of Western Europe and the U.S. in the 1930s.

The idea that the collapse of the Soviet Union caused a fall in the standards of living is just too bizarre. Every person who has even remotely been around during the 1990ies has to know that living standards soared after the Soviet empire broke down. And the comparison between the post-Soviet transition to capitalism and the Great Depression? The author of this article has no shame. This will now be one more example that I will use to teach my students about why using Wikipedia makes no sense.