While I have been searching for a topic that heralds the return of spring, or at least something interesting on the science front, current events present their own topics that require broader examination. Though numerous pundits and bloggers are offering their own take on things, I would feel remiss if I sat back and ignored them myself.
The violence in Afghanistan over the burning of a qur’an is receiving all sorts of debate here in the States, not the least of which being whether some nitwit pastor of a podunk church in Florida deserves some portion of the blame. Let me be clear: he doesn’t. He was simply making a grandstand play for attention because he had nothing of any real importance to say regarding his own religion – you might as well try to blame Perez Hilton for, well, anything.
One could even blame the media for parading his actions into world exposure, but this, too, is like kicking a puppy for wetting on the carpet. It’s the media – they haven’t known what news is since 1974. You can’t blame them for making money off of the feeble-minded trailer-park denizens that still pay attention to their attempts to stir controversy. Somebody out there, and it appears to be a lot of somebody, thinks there’s some value in the refrigerator art that we get in lieu of decent information.
The only ones to blame are the members of the mob, the ones who gave any credit whatsoever to the encouragements of the posturing mullah and stormed the UN headquarters. The ones who couldn’t see the “lookitme!” cries (from both sides) for exactly what they were – pointless handwaving. The ones who never considered that a book is just paper with ink on it, springing from the same mass-production methods as newspapers, as children’s books, as toilet paper. The ones too stupid to think on their own, and somehow proud of this fact.
Or, perhaps, not proud at all, but actually ashamed – just too juvenile to admit it to themselves, much less others. Instead, defensively, they violently asserted their “rights” to be stupid as long as plenty of others did the same – this many people can’t be wrong, can they? I’ve been asked that myself far too many times to count, with absolutely no one ever accepting the simple answer, “Yes, they most certainly can.” How much more proof is needed than this?
What we need to recognize is that this is what happens in a theocratic state – what happens when we think that religion deserves some place among the laws of the country and the power of its citizens. And yes, I said “we” – human beings, the lot of us. I’m not stupid enough to think this is an aspect of islam any more than it’s an aspect of christianity or even buddhism. They all have their own admonishments for peace, against violence, but this has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with what the practitioners get up to when they feel they are “right.” Religion is not a force for good, it is a bastion of authority, and always has been. Seriously, we can’t look at the ideas of omniscience and omnipotence and see that these are intended as ultimate argument halters? Let’s not be naïve.
The only reason that anyone encourages religious “rights” and rules, anti-blasphemy laws and the inclusion of creation myths in the classroom, is because they know that such things cannot stand up on their own merits, on the very simple concept that they’re better. That they should self-evidently work, like gravity and electricity, or even like freedom and equality. We have countless people throughout the world crying for the protection of their precious little mythologies not because they’re such good systems, but precisely because they suck so badly that too many people simply can’t buy it.
Think I made a contradiction with that last sentence? That’s because you’re thinking that the blanket terms “christianity” or “islam” mean everyone has the same beliefs and structure within. Now consider it in the terms of how baptists view catholics, and how well sunni and shi’ites get along. Ponder why any town actually needs seventeen “christian” churches within three square miles of one another. New churches spring up faster than options at Starbucks.
Our founding fathers, those that drew up the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, at least knew what the fuck “history” was, and made an astounding effort to try and prevent the huge mistakes of the past. The tenets of these documents are not up to voter acceptance, not up to mob rule, precisely because they could only protect the voters and the mobs by remaining out of their hands. Politicians and military officers and police officers swear to uphold them because, without them, we are far too likely to repeat the same stupid behavior of cultures long past. The separation of church and state exists to make the distinction between those that rely on mindless assertions, and those that have to make things work despite the vagaries of the populace and their flavor of the day religions. One has historical fact behind it; the other denies history, science, physical laws, human nature, and common sense in favor of, “because I said so.” While our culture has been steadily moving away from raising our children with such inane and worthless assertions, it still seems acceptable to many adults. You’ll pardon me if I call that hypocritical and asinine.
It’s amazing to me that we don’t even have to have a knowledge of history to see what’s happening in places like Afghanistan right this very moment, and still cannot see the implications. Religious authority is not concerning itself with proper conduct, and cannot handle the tiniest bit of questioning – they are proudly demonstrating this to anyone with two brain cells to rub together. Someone can make the case that Afghan citizens have simply had enough of US involvement, and receive no argument from me. But that’s not what the protests and violence are all about, is it? The mobs are not acting on some US-provoked incident in Afghanistan that’s a symptom of the problem and unrest, or on a new UN resolution. They acted on the provocation of their precious little fairy tales, and by relying on the authority of both the mullah and the mob, rather than applying their brains for just the tiniest of seconds and realizing that the book they held in their hands was not gone at all (not to mention how many more get destroyed every time a bomb goes off someplace.) They’re reacting because someone can actually call it a fairy tale and they have no good response for this. Yeah, please tell me that’s providing peace and comfort to the masses. Please tell me the theocratic state is making things so much better.
And for some reason, we have numerous dipwads in this country that want to do the same here. Anyone that thinks christianity is somehow different is obligated (and openly invited) to explain how.
By all means, we really do need to be teaching religion to schoolchildren – they need to know this shit. Our founding fathers certainly did, nearly two and a half centuries previously. Hey, I’ll be happy to do it myself, and can one-up the idiots crowing for “teaching the controversy” across our country right now – I won’t show any bias towards any religious denomination or sect in the slightest. Seriously, I’d love to do this.
I’m sure anyone reading can imagine how scary that sounds to many, but the real question is, “Why?” It couldn’t possibly be because I could sell this faster and more effectively than any religion named, could it?