Saturday, February 11, 2006

Small thought on religion, or rather its followers

I saw this over at the Cranky Professor, who picked it up over at relapsed catholic. In terms of what is going on these days, with the cartoons and all, I think it sums up nicely some things I have been thinking about. The relapsed catholic writes (emphasis in the original):

I don't buy into this notion that religion is automatically deserving of "respect". We've been hearing that word a lot lately. The other people who use the word "respect" a lot (or, more likely, "disrespect" -- as a verb...) are those thugs who make Toronto's streets so unsafe for decent people. When thugs, be they gangstas or Mafia types or Islamic crazies or other macho bores, complain that we are not showing them adequate "respect", what they really mean is that we are not showing them adequate FEAR.
I could not agree more. Respect, in my book at least, is something you earn, not something you are automatically entitled to. I am happy to show people respect, but to the extent they reciprocate. You behave like a barbarian, I am just leaving you be. And I can't shake the feeling that a lot of these Muslims out there rioting and basically giving a bad name to their religion are no farther away than street thugs who don't really want respect, they want people to fear them. Well, I for one, refuse to show bullies fear. Most of the civilized world values freedom of expression and freedom of the press. In her post, Kathy, the relapsed catholic, also writes,

Not all belief systems are worthy of respect. If your beliefs can't stand scrutiny or mockery, perhaps you beliefs are stupid, no? I am a Catholic, not a Muslim; I am under no obligation to observe their strictures about "blasphemy" -- we're not living under sharia law. Yet.

Now, like most Catholics, they tend to dislike when you remind them about a little something called the Inquisition (she dismisses it as "the first tool in every simpleminded secularist's little box of insults."), then again, I am sure other religions dislike being reminded of their past sins. But, that aside, I do have to agree with her last line because like her, and the rest of the Western world, guess what? We are not Muslims and under no obligation to observe their strictures. We are not under Sharia law, which if they had their way, everyone would have to follow. I bet not many people think about that. Her best lines comes a bit earlier in her post,

Of course, I'd have less to criticize [referring to criticizing Muslims] if a) they stopped killing people and b) moderate Muslims would do their job and tell their co-religionists to chill. I'm beginning to think that moderate Muslims are an urban legend, like the crocodiles in the sewers of New York.
And this is what really bothers me. That we hear about how all these moderates are out there, and how they supposedly condemn the hijacking of their religion. However, you never actually hear anything of substance done, and you sure as heck don't see them rising up in arms to tell their more radical brethren to shut the hell up. And as an aside, yes, I am aware that there are various socioeconomic issues at play when it comes to immigrants in Europe, but that does not create an excuse for certain people to behave like hordes of barbarians. However, this is not just Islam's followers. Christians have a record of their own when it comes to letting the radicals hijack their religion and then sitting idly by. I personally am starting to think that moderate Christians are another urban legend as well. Every time Pat Robertson calls for someone's assassination or Jerry Falwell does his latest pronouncement, you don't hear too many so-called moderates condemn them. You may hear secularists condemn them, but members of their own religion, rarely if ever. Why? Because in every case, Islam or Christian, they really have a sympathy for whatever it was those radicals said. They just do not have the spine to actually say they support it for fear of being labeled politically incorrect. Well, I am going out on a limb here and saying that these people should be denounced. Radicals who claim that we should all be goose stepping to their repressive visions need to be ridiculed, denounced, defied, and countered by whatever means, other than violence. Using violence will not only engender more violence, it will also make us stoop to their level, and we are better than that. And I will go on a further limb, and I will say that if you are a moderate, or claim to be one, and you stay quiet, you are enabling the problem. You need to be denounced, ridiculed, defied and countered as well for allowing your brethren to do horrible things in your name.

Unlike Kathy, I am not ready to call someone's belief stupid. . . yet. But as someone who is not terribly religious, in spite of being raised very religiously, I have to wonder about these religious people who use their belief to hurt others instead of making this world a bit better for themselves and everyone else. What's going on with the cartoons is just a symptom of a larger problem, one that over time, may get worse if good people of whatever belief or lack of belief fail to confront and denounce. It would be so much easier to stay quiet. To simply literally let them kill each other. Yet it is getting to the point that we have to say something. We have to shine the light on these punks, whatever their religion, and expose them to the world for the repressive thugs that they are. I like my freedom to express myself just fine. I may not agree with what you express, but I will certainly defend your right to express it. I will also defend my right to express myself if you try to take it away from me. Maybe it's time to draw a line in the sand, and say from this point on, we are not tolerating any more. Evil happens when good people stand idly by and do nothing. I, for one, would like to think I am at least somewhat of a good person.


Mark said...

This is lovely Angel! I'll have to get back to though at more length, getting ready to go swimming.

Dude, when you lived in IN did you go swimming in February? When it is flurrying out? Seems wholely unnatural to me. But friends are priceless ... so swimming it is.

Todorov. I'll get back to Todorov and more...

Angel, librarian and educator said...

Mark: Welcome again. I hope you had a good swim. Back in IN, if I did, it was indoors. Where I did my first masters, I would go swim at the campus gymnasium's pool in the mornings, back in the day when I had time for such. Do miss it, as it gave me a nice morning start, even if it was chilly out. Best, and keep on blogging.