Monday, December 12, 2005

Disturbing Behaviour

Round Up! Round Up! Rant, Rant, Rant!

So, my Pops likes to ask me questions that he knows will start an argument. This is how he likes to 'communicate,' and he does this often. He often asks me about what I think of certain things, and he never really likes my answers.

Take, for instance, religion.

My whole life, I have dealt with absolute insanity when it has come to religon. Now, don't get me wrong: most of the people I know are just as sincere and humble about their faith as good folks are supposed to be. I am not talking about them.

It is the crazies that set my blood to boilin'. I have listened, intently, to the broadcasted lessons of the Reverends Falwell, Dobson, Robertson, Hagee, Jackson, Sharpton and Farakkhan, as well as the 'persecuted Christian' mentality that exists even down here in the thickest sections of the Bible belt. I have listened, intently, to the preaching of high school classmates who told me exactly where I was gonna go so long as I disagreed with them. I've attended a stealth mission fire and brimstone sermon at my own high school graduation, and we just had a mandatory attendance tent revival in the high school gym, wether you were Christian or not.

So we'll say I have a healthy skepticism of fundamentalist religious beliefs. This is especially true when Christians in this country act like all I do all day is sharpen my knife at Super Secret Liberal Takeover Headquartes trying to foil their attempts at self expression.

"No, you may not whoop me about the head and shoulders with a 10 foot plywood crucifix" does not amount to me curtailing your religous freedom. Me asking that science be taught in science class does not censor what you say from the pulpit Sunday mornin'. Me sayin' "Happy Holidays" is a Southern tradition I uphold the same way I say "Yes, sir," "Please" and "Thank You." It ain't sensitivity trainin', it's called being polite and respectful of others.

Sincere, humble people of faith didn't think there was anything seriously wrong with my being polite ten years ago. But these days, because the crazies have talked about it for so long, they think that's me oppressing Christianity. That doesn't scare me, that makes me angry. It makes me really angry when sincere and humble people of faith (like my Pops) buys into that sort of nonsense.

After listening to this brand of religon as "if you disagree with me, you should die" rhetoric in fundamentalism of any religon, I have come to one conclusion: If sincere and humble people of faith get hijacked by crazies of any religon then armed conflict is inevitable. History will repeat itself.

Pops looks at me when I said this, and said I'm taking things too seriously. When I hear the venom of folks talking about what they want to do to get "God back in school" I wonder if I'm taking it seriously enough.

For example: a coupla thousand Australians rioted near Sydney over the weekend. Their target? People who looked Arabic and Indian, and the whites who tried to help stop the beatings. As someone who counts among his circle of friends several individuals by the names of Gupta, Kachru and Golabi, I took keen interest in this little newsreel. Luckily, the Australian government showed exactly how to deal with rioters (pay attention, France) and dropped some serious hammers on the hooligans before things got widespread. I guess all that world football & rugby hooliganism control is good trainin'.

Closer to home, did you hear what happened out in Kansas? A professor was pulled over by the side of a country road and got beat down because he was going to teach a class that was unfavorable to 'intelligent design' and talking trash about fundamentalists who have taken over his state. Anybody remember Matthew Sheppard? James Byrd? Despite the obvious mockery of "Who Would Jesus Curb-Stomp," this should start alarm bells ringing in many, many ears.

I guess the freedom to go to what Church you want is sacrosanct only if you keep your big, liberal mouth shut. Though this professor is a bonehead, real Christians and mature Americans would just ignore him and not take his class, the universal answer to wussy, annoying professors.

And not to be excluded from the warming Culture War, Fox News is making rhetorical mountains out of molehills over this whole "War on Christmas" thing. ("War" on Christmas, indeed. Blue Collar Comedy & Co hunt Santa's reindeer with guns, and that's funny. Saying "Happy Holidays" gets you deported? You know what we used to call public nativity scenes in South Georgia? Hiding places from the annual Senior-Junior Egg Wars of Glynn County. Nothing says real reverence of tradition like diving behind a Wise Man to avoid getting 'shelled' by four peabrains in a Jeep.) The link is to the Israel Policy Forum. This is another place I don't agree with all the politics, but it kind of brings into focus the other side of the "Happy Holidays" thing.

As if it is offensive to recognize that other sincere and humble people of other faiths are celebrating stuff too during this time of the year, and that the kids get a little time out of school.

Bah Humbug.


patsbrother said...

Some thoughts (as I have nothing else to do while drunk)...

While my original question would have been how do several thousand petulant Australians all get inebriated at once, I suppose it is just their way of fitting in with the bizarre mammalian freakshow that is the land down under. Muslim Australian terrorists: 0. "Christian" Australian terrorists: 3000. Yippee. Bring on the World Cup.

Second, in a way I am glad there is some explicable reason I've been seeing Happy Holidays "controversy" pieces in the news. If Bill O'Reilly really wants to boycott Wal-Mart, all I have to say in reply was already said by Gene Wilder in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory: "No. Stop. Come back. Don't."

Finally, paT calls the Kansas professor a "bonehead". This may be true, but the man's proposed "Intelligent Design, Creationsim, and Other Creation Mythologies" class sounds a lot like a little something paT proposed in earnest a few months back, and not as an elective college course but as part of a mandatory high school ciriculum. But the man was insensitive to "fundies", you say. Yeah, but just imagine telling a 16-year-old about a world perched atop three elephants atop a turtle atop a scarab beetle. In the words of a good teacher-friend of mine: "I'm not going to tell you Christianity is a myth; but that it could be; and it is."

Oh, and by the way: I am done with my first semester of law school, and I have now had the experience of (attempting to) recite the Nicene Creed with two other drunk Catholic law students while one was in between dry heaves outside All Good on Clayton. The Culture of Life at its finest, indeed.

dadvocate said...

There are two groups I don't like to spend much time with, the extreme fundamentalist, religious types and the extreme liberals/leftists. Both are always trying to teach me a "lesson" of some sort to enlighten me, save me, etc. as though I can't figure anything out for myself. For Christians rioting, plundering, etc. is antithetical.

Some think the Paul Mirecki attack was a hoax. I must admit that was one of my thought when I read the story. Just seemed a little too weird.

Patrick Armstrong said...

1. I still don't think the idea for a "Creation Mythologies" class is a bad one.

2. But it is if the class is specifically meant to be insulting. If this Prof was planning his class to be a 'big fat slap in the face' to the 'fundies' then he's a bonehead example of silly people who stayed in school long enough to get a Ph.D. cause they had nothing better to do.

3. Profs like that, because of such behavior, give both academics and liberals a bad name.

4. His roadside whoopin.' Good link on the possibility of a hoax. Having witnessed enough tyrants and thugs in my life (liberal, 'fundie' or otherwise) I'll still take the story at face value. Especially after reading...

5. ...That ultra right wing groups and activists in Kansas were circulating this Prof's name before he was attacked. Not that such information is damning evidence of any actual wrongdoing, but it sure can go to motive and means. If people knew who he was, what classes he was teaching and what he said when he was running his mouth. An address could be found by running a reverse phone number from an online syllabus for one of his classes, and from there one could lie in wait. A beating about the head and shoulders leaves bruises to be sure, but no broken bones (simple battery & a misdemeanor).

6. That could also explain why he resigned his positions and cancelled certain classes. He may not want to stay in Kansas anymore, and while he ran the department, any other professors may be targets as well.

7. He gets out of his car after being tailgated and pulling over? Not very smart, to be sure. It ain't like bonehead had a bunch of common sense when he started talking trash about 'fundies' whilst he lived in Kansas anyway.

But, yeah, there is a possibility that this is all cooked up.