In Canada, we are now debating the proposed legislation in Quebec on the restriction of in-your-face religious symbols in government owned spaces.
I am on record with my unease in permitting a government – any government – in legislating how sovereign citizens may or may not dress…while at the same time, I am also on record with my reservations about permitting individuals who are acting as ‘agents of the state’ to display overt religious symbols as we, as a country of immigrants, are bound to have some citizens who have come to Canada to escape the oppression of every single religious group ‘out there’…..and if an agent of the state, WHILE acting as the agent of the state, displays that religion’s symbols, the individual citizen will have been, in my never-humble-opinion, alienated at best and oppressed by the state at worst.
I have never claimed that I know where the balance lies!!!
Indeed, I do not.
Yet, I do think it is essential that we have this discussion honestly, without the fears that Cultural Marxism with its doctrine of ‘political correctness’ and the fear to speak honestly about our own desires and fears – so that our fellow citizens can honestly understand them, however irrational they may be – can happen. Only when we understand this can we go back to the first principles (self ownership) and reason out the least harmful solution…our fellow citizens deserve nothing less than that!
The following video offers a bit of that – much less than that in some respects, much more in others. I think it brings some factors to this discussion that we all ought to keep in mind when we consider the wider implication of any legislation which would seek to define what the boundaries of the outward expressions of one’s religious faith ought to be:
This video is interesting for several different reasons.
Yes, I do agree with most of what AronRa says in this one.
The only exception I take is to his claim that circumcision gives some protection against the transmission of AIDS. Yes, there are studies that ‘conclusively’ show this. But, there are just as many studies that just as ‘conclusively’ show that this is not so. All studies, however, show that wearing a condom does work…
…and I think that it is better to err on the side of caution when it comes to incurable deadly diseases. Still, if people wish the protection of circumcision as well as a condom, when they are old enough to give informed consent to it and they pay themselves for it, I have no problem with any cosmetic procedure.
After all, self-ownership is the cornerstone of our civilization!
The reason this video is important is not just because of the reasonable things AronRa says (and that he looks rather good saying them), and not because of how he says them (he is a much better speaker when he does not deliver a prepared speech but rather when he speaks unscripted), but because of the attitude the theists in the audience display as well as the demonstration of theist sentiment in the video that AronRa shows.
It is difficult to describe just how visceral the hatred many theists feel toward atheists – and feel completely righteous in expressing – is.
Don’t get me wrong – I don’t want to shut them up.
Let them spew.
But really – saying that if my beliefs don’t match theirs, I should be raped?
Suggesting all atheists should be hunted down and killed?
We are not talking about some uneducated Islamists – these sentiments were expressed by American Christians…
An orthodox Jew, a moderate Muslim and an archetypal polytheists (someone who believes all gods exist – as fairy-tales) walk into a bar.
What happens next?
The Jew and the Muslim unite against the atheist in a ‘theological’ debate.
This is not a joke – it happened to me. The moderate Muslim was Salim Mansur. We were all celebrating the launch of Salim’s most excellent book, ‘The Delectable Lie’.
Sure, everything was very friendly and good humoured – but, it still did not take long for the two monotheists to set their differences aside and unite against the atheist. (To be perfectly honest, I am nowhere near as good at verbal arguing as either one of these two intelligent, educated men… Mind you, since then, I have thought of really, really awesome things I should have said! AHA!)
OK, these guys had their fun, but they were very, very nice to me.
They were not like the typical theists one meets.
Somehow, I suspect I have had more than my ‘fair’ share of ‘scary’ experiences.
I have ‘bunny-hopped’ a tank once – because my Aspieness got me manipulated into trying to drive one when I was 12-years-old. Really, I just mouthed-off to the ‘wrong’ ‘many’-star general (because I did not ‘get’ it) it a totalitarian country – all my friends later admitted they thought I was going to be either sent to re-education camp or expelled from the exclusive language school as a result.
I have been stopped in the street and interrogated by the police – in a totalitarian police state – for not having my ‘documents’ …when I was too young to have been issued ‘documents’.
I have escaped from a totalitarian police state across a closed border.
I was less than 15 meters from a live shoot-out battle between two criminal elements within the UN refugee camp where I was staying. There were fatalities.
I was stalked – twice, by very different men in very different circumstances.
I was physically attacked by attempted rapists, three times (twice by someone whom I knew, once by a group of strangers). I had to fight my way out, each time. (Twice I did so unharmed, once I got off easily with just a torn-up shoulder – it still pops out of its socket at the slightest provocation! Well worth it!)
But, never in my life have I felt as unsafe, as physically threatened, as when a neighbour manipulated me to go to her Pentecostal Church and the ‘congregation’ saw me – singled out – refuse to ‘accept Jesus into my heart’!!!
Truly, this was the most frightening thing I have ever experienced.
At the risk of sounding pretentious, I suspect I understand how Hypatia felt in the last moments of her life. (This NOT, in any way, a comparison of me to Hypatia: it is the comparison of the fear we both felt as we faced a crowd of homicidal theists on her part and almost-homicidal ones on my part!)
I kid you not.
I could face a bullet.
I could beat up a bunch of thugs.
I could face down stalkers.
I can defend my honour against attempted rapists.
But faced with such a large crowd, whipped into a mob mentality by their preacher, so sure in their ‘righteousness’ and so pitiless towards ‘unbelievers’ – I knew that if something tipped them just a tiny bit further, I was dead.
It was palpable!
It was then that I knew what being hated not for ‘who I was’, but for ‘what I was’ was like.
So, yes – I do believe the theists – Christian, Muslim or whatever other religion – when they say that they will kill me, if they get a chance.
Not every theist is this way, of course not.
But way too many are.
The religion itself is much less important than the sense of self-righteousness it conveys onto its adherents!
It is my profound conviction that without the religious teaching that it is righteous and God-pleasing to exterminate ‘the unbelievers’, these men and women would never have abandoned morality in favour of threatened or actual mob violence – and felt good about doing it!!!