Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Tomorrow is "Be An Atheist A-hole Day"

Muslims have engaged in frequent peaceful protests with regards to cartoons that depicted Mohammed. Unfortunately when you have frequent and worldwide protests on any hot issue clashes sometimes erupt and violence occurs. This of course happened with regards to these cartoons. The worst incident I know of was a clash between Christians and Muslims in Nigeria that left 127 people dead.

Many atheists have decided that because of this it makes a lot of sense to be a massive prick and stick your finger in the eye of the entire Muslim world, including the vast swaths of Muslims that protested peacefully. Let's all draw Mohammed. I guess the thinking is that the world would be much improved if we all treated those that think differently like crap.

It's interesting to note the selective outrage of some. The Muslim country of Iraq was invaded on a pack of lies for reasons thinking people know had to do with the control of resources. Around 1.5 million dead. Prior to this Iraq was subjected to a starvation campaign. Maybe a million dead. Muslim nations have been subjected to vicious puppet dictators by the United States for decades. These things aren't noticed. These are things that are going on today and could be stopped if people could figure out which things are really worth objecting to. Instead we will focus on a small handful of idiot Muslims and how they became violent. The speck in our neighbor's eye is a problem. The beam in our own eye is irrelevant.

Unfortunately Hemant Mehta, the so called "Friendly Atheist", is promoting this. You can read his reasons and my objections in the comments section here and here. I like Hemant and really he is a friendly atheist. He may have gotten swept up here by the atheist community. He probably won't see the light quickly enough to pull his support before this incident proceeds, but I hope that he will change his thinking eventually.


DagoodS said...

So you agree with “peaceful protests with regards to cartoons that depicted Mohammed” but disagree with a peaceful protest against some Muslims killing people for making cartoons depicting Mohammed?

O.K. to protest drawings; not O.K. to protest killings. Do I have that about right?

I was also confused by your comparison to 2.5 Million dead in Iraq. Yes, that is terrible. Yes, it must be decried. But does that mean we can ignore the 139 dead (according to your link) from a response to a…cartoon? At what number dead do you approve of outrage? If 139 dead is not enough—what number is?

Jon: Many atheists have decided that because of this it makes a lot of sense to be a massive prick and stick your finger in the eye of the entire Muslim world, including the vast swaths of Muslims that protested peacefully.
People are dying. Artists are being attacked. Media are self-censoring. Property is being destroyed. Yeah, I would say it IS time to stick one’s finger in the eyes of those doing it. If the “vast swaths of Muslims” aren’t; thank goodness for those who do.

Jon said...

I disagree with some types of peaceful protests. For instance a peaceful protest of freedom of speech might involve large numbers of atheists walking around in public places cursing loudly in front of elderly people and children. I would disagree with that.

It's of course fine to protest killings just as it is fine to protest freedom of speech, but this doesn't mean I approve of every method of protest.

I think your level of outrage should be proportional to the # unjustly killed and it should also be related to behavior that you actually have an ability to control. Soviet dissidents were criticized by Soviet nationalists who told them that they should look to America's crimes. How can they criticize the Soviet Union when America is equally if not more awful? They replied that this is less useful. Americans aren't listening to them. Sure, America is slaughtering many. But so is our government and we can control our government. Why don't we focus on our own crimes first?

When you say "it IS time to stick one’s finger in the eyes of those doing it" you miss my point. My point is this behavior is sticking our finger in the eyes of those NOT doing it.

So my Pakistani friend is a devout Muslim that thinks those people that attacked cartoonists are idiots and don't understand Islam. He stands right with all of us in condemning them. But now he gets to be subjected to obnoxious atheists going out of there way to offend his religious sensibilities. How is this a good thing?

DagoodS said...


Why would you disagree with a large number of atheists protesting by cursing in front of elderly and children?* Because it is morally wrong, unconstitutional or ineffective? (Or some other reason—don’t want to limit you! *grin*)

*Curious limitation. Are the elderly necessary of greater protection from certain speech? Children? Are the middle-aged less in need of protection?

Does your Pakistani Muslim friend approve of cartoons depicting Mohammed? Does he allow for drawings of Mohammed?

You are free (of course!) to not approve…I may even say that is your right. What do you suggest as an alternative? Ignore it?

Jon: But now he gets to be subjected to obnoxious atheists going out of there way to offend his religious sensibilities. How is this a good thing?
Bwahahaha…Jon, I know you better than that. You know my very existence as an atheist “offends” the sensibilities of my conservative Christian friends, family and acquaintances. The fact I would dare claim Jesus was not God, or the Bible has errors, or homosexuality is O.K., or that churches should pay taxes…(the list goes on) “offends their religious sensibilities.”

If I started worrying about actions “offending” someone’s religious sensibilities, I would have to come to a complete halt.

In fact—this is the very reason I support this campaign. Speech that does not offend anyone is never in need of protection. It is the very reason it IS offending that requires us to step up and say, “I don’t like this speech, but I will protect and defend the person to make it in order to promulgate free speech.”

Jon said...

Let me take your last point first. I'm not saying I would not protect the right of anyone to draw Mohammed. That's not at issue here. I fully defend anyone's right to draw Mohammed just as I defend the right of anyone to draw Jesus in an offensive way. My point is I do not think it's good. My son has every legal right to be rude towards his friends, but I encourage him not to. That's all I'm doing here.

Why oppose swearing in the faces of old people and children? Not because it's unconstitutional, but because it causes needless suffering. That suffering is being inflicted on those that are not responsible for the initial injustice (suppose that the initial infraction was that someone was beaten by thugs for swearing in public). These elderly people did not beat anyone, they do not support those that beat up the person that swore, but they do think public swearing is wrong. Why are we punishing them?

I use children and the elderly because it's easier to envision them being more upset by having someone swear in their face. Thirty something males generally aren't as much upset by such things. But I likewise don't think we should swear in their face either.

I just asked my Pakistani friend because I work with him and he said it is like using the "n" word. He does not approve of it. It should not be illegal but it is hurting people, so why would you do that?

Actually I think ignoring this is the right response. The majority of death that has resulted may not be because protesters were looking to engage in violence, but because when you have large groups with a conflict protesting simultaneously they bump into each other sometimes there is violence.

A tiny fraction of the members of any group will sometimes do stupid things. Recently someone bombed a mosque in Florida. Should Muslims all over the world find out if he's a Christian and if so make efforts to offend all Christians? These things happen. To take such opportunities and use them to be obnoxious to large groups to me is counterproductive and wrong.

I am also not saying that a person should never engage in behavior that is offensive. If my denial of Christ's divinity is offensive to some I can't help that because for my betterment I have to be allowed to follow my conscience in terms of my beliefs. But this doesn't mean I'm going to encourage people to rip up Bibles and pee on crosses. That's not something I need to do for my own betterment and it causes suffering. That's needless suffering.

DagoodS said...


It’s more than just two mobs bumping into each other.

See here.

I am not sure utilitarian ethics (“needless suffering”) is workable in this situation. Yes, some Muslims suffer. But so do the families of those threatened for exercising free speech. I suffer when media self-censor out of fear. Many suffer when Sharia law is being enforced upon those who do not wish it. How do we measure all that suffering to see where the action is that causes the least? Perhaps being silent eventually causes MORE suffering.

Again, you are free to dislike this action. I’ve not seen how it is immoral under any system of ethics, nor have I seen how it is any more or less effectual than anything else we do.