Tag Archives: Richard Dawkins

What Passes for Conversation

Tommy_Prince

The problem with most issues these days is that people get married into their camps and more often than not would defend their worst members. It makes a lot of political/social debates disingenuous and quite unbearable when sides spend a lot of their energies defending their weakest links as if they were their strongest.

An example: a week ago, I’ve been called a “shitty, shitty person” because of my opinion regarding a rape activist who live-blogged her rape minutes after it happened. She’s an activist and thus an educator, so I don’t think this sets a good example for people. I believe victims should report their attack first and not have Instagram as their priority. I’m also particularly turned off by some facts regarding the case. I know a woman’s actions should never justify an attack, but the woman went to a foreign country and showered naked with a stranger in a hostel. After said attack, she posted the alleged attackers picture on the Internet. It appears she’s trying to convict her alleged attacker via social media. Not only that, her previous efforts at activism haven’t really garnered much media attention, and this appears to be a cry for attention. So much about it just sounds either foolish or disingenuous.

Now, many feminists and advocates would advise that people suspend all of their suspicions when it comes to rape victims despite Occam’s razor. I tend to agree, but I also believe in things such as innocent until proven guilty, and not showering with strangers in hostels. So the conversation in the Internet goes:

Me: Rape victims should report the crime first. Give social media a rest.
Commenter: Misogyny will even dictate to women how they should react after suffering rape. (Because apparently that’s exactly what I was doing, hating women and “dictating” to them how they should react.)
Me: New feminists define misogyny as anything counter to their message, no matter how ill-advised that message is.
Commenter: You’re a shitty, shitty person. (So much for a debate!)

This attitude is not unique to new feminists. You can also see this among atheists, religious people, and both sides of the political aisle. People will defend everything the likes of Dawkins and Harris say despite both men fueling Islamophobia. Same thing with the religious. How many times have people excused their actions “because of faith?” And while sometimes people won’t defend every fundamentalist on their camp, they would sometimes vilify everything on the other side, no matter how much it benefits them. Just look at all of the conservatives who rail against Obamacare.

I once joked that I’m now too old to follow professional wrestling, so now I follow politics for my drama. Unfortunately, I think a lot of people do so but with much more fervor and they’re not aware of how swept up they are in the whole thing. The drama consumes them (Going back to the wrestling analogy, they’re the fans who believe it’s all real). They get so entrenched on their own side of the argument that they fail to examine opposing point of views. Worse, they neglect to be critical of things happening in their camp. Just look at Fox News when they wonder why Muslim communities don’t condemn acts of fundamentalist Islamic terror, even when most Muslim communities actually do. The same Fox talkers turn a blind eye to crimes committed by Christians, like the uniquely American Christian anti-gay wave in Africa (“Kill the Gays” anyone?).

So yeah, good luck in finding an honest debate/opinion/report on any issue. Many of the major news outlets have their own slant, and the minute you voice an opinion, you’re bound to find some nut job just waiting to contradict anyone on the other side.

I guess what I’m advocating is not to be married to an ideology. I’m a Catholic, but I acknowledge the fact that Mother Teresa is a fraud and that the church has been covering up pedophilia. I like Dawkins, but sometimes he can either get petty or downright bigoted. I consider myself a feminist, but I’m not gonna jump into every feminist/rape bandwagon.

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Why, Richard?

protester

So this 14 year-old kid Ahmed Mohamed goes to school with a clock he made for a science project, shows it to several teachers, some of them say that it “looks cool.” Then one teacher gets nervous, thinks it’s a bomb and calls the cops. The school wasn’t evacuated, the cops say it wasn’t a bomb, and the kid was handcuffed anyway. Now, people are saying that this was a case of Islamophobia. And I would say yes, it seems patently obvious. I don’t think a box with wires sticking out of it in a school is any more menacing than a couple of people brandishing their AR-15s in a Walmart. Both are legal, only the second example is designed to elicit an example. Only the second example involves things that are actually designed to kill people.

And if you compare the incident to how predominantly white gun-carry advocates walk around the country unmolested, there’s a good argument that this is just as much as being a person of color in America as it is about being a Muslim.

I already talked about how Bill Maher sometimes loses me with his Islamophobia. It is one thing to be an atheist, but it is another thing to be an Islamophobe. The hysteria over the brown kid carrying a science project around school showed such an abandon of logic that I was hoping someone as intelligent as Bill Maher would not try to justify. I tend to be sympathetic to atheistic arguments, and I really don’t want to claim that there is religious persecution after many fundamentalist Christians cry wolf about their “suffering,” but when he said that people were reasonable to be suspicious of Ahmed Mohamed, this is exactly the type of light Islamophobia that results in children being handcuffed.

He is not alone in this either. Even Richard Dawkins tweeted that the kid was a fraud. He suggested that the kid passed himself off as an inventor and made a clock that suspiciously looks like a bomb. All of it just to get arrested, create a viral story, and later on get scholarship offers and an invitation to the White House. Bravo, Richard Dawkins. You’ve just become a Twitter nut job (at least in this case). There’s always the possibility that we’ve all been victims of this brilliant kid’s masterful hoax, but Occam’s razor suggests that it’s probably just a kid who made a suspicious-looking clock.

Steven Levitt once wrote about atheist books and the mysterious market for them. Who buys these books? There is a market for holy and religious books, after all, the religious need the books to enlighten themselves more about their faith. And the religious would never buy atheists books. At least, I imagine they won’t. Why would they? But what about atheists? If you truly don’t believe in the existence of God, then why buy a book to affirm your belief? You don’t need reinforcement on a non-belief. As Steven put it:

“So who is making these anti-God books best-sellers? Do the people who despise the notion of God have an insatiable demand for books that remind them of why? Are there that many people out there who haven’t made up their mind on the subject and are open to persuasion?

Let me put the argument another way: I understand why books attacking liberals sell. It is because many conservatives hate liberals. Books attacking conservatives sell for the same reason. But no one writes books saying that bird watching is a waste of time, because people who aren’t bird watchers probably agree, but don’t want to spend $20 in order to read about it. Since very few people (at least in my crowd) actively dislike God, I’m surprised that anti-God books are not received with the same yawn that anti-bird watcher books would be.”

I think Steven kinda brushed on the reason why anti-God books are selling recently. Conservatives hate liberals and would buy books that bash liberals. I’m guessing that some atheists actively hate the religious, or at least see them as intellectually inferior to some extent, and perhaps get some joy out of bashing them. Instead of adopting a liberal attitude about things and truly not caring about religion unless said religion affects them somehow, some atheists get trapped into a sort of game of one-upmanship the same way political parties do. Of course, this is not something truly unique to atheists. The same could be said about some of the religious.

And this is where Bill Maher and Steve Dawkins sometimes sink to. Yes, yes, religion is bullshit. But that’s coming from our “enlightened” bubble. Ethnocentrism is judging others based on their ethnic group, especially in terms of customs, language, and religion. Perhaps people find value in their religion in ways that I do not. Who knows? I’m not about to judge other people as long as it doesn’t affect me. Believe in God or don’t, just don’t make it my business. But when giants of the atheist way of thinking start bashing huge swaths of people, it sours the whole thing for me. It is lazy and misguided. The same way some current feminists are spoiling the movement by being hyper-sensitive, censorship-advocating, misandrists, some atheists are turning into outright bigots.

I’m not saying that the religious are being persecuted. I’m not, especially in terms of Christians in North America. But casual bigotry towards other religions makes cuffing children, not allowing refugees into countries, and outright bombing cities, a tad easier to do.

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