Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Open Response to Bill Donohue.

In response to Bill Donohue's open letter, from the Catholic League website.

This is the kind of thing Bill Donohue thinks is insulting, offensive, and to be angry about.
Killing in response to insult, no matter how gross, must be unequivocally condemned. That is why what happened in Paris cannot be tolerated. But neither should we tolerate the kind of intolerance that provoked this violent reaction.

First sentence, great.  I agree totally.  Killing is bad, and let's try not doing it.

Second sentence, also wonderful.  It's good to condemn people who kill other people, in this context especially.

Third sentence and, well, we've hit a wall.  What kind of intolerance should we not tolerate?  It's pretty damned intolerant to say we shouldn't tolerate freedom of expression.  Bill doesn't seem to realize that lots of things that Religious people say are just as inflammatory.  Bill has no problem using religion to defend his intolerant stances:  
"Anti-Catholicism is sadly tolerated at a time when much progress in curbing bigotry has been made by other demographic groups. The reasons for this condition are complex, but they are unacceptable regardless. Our job is to continue the fight: at least we know that our effort is on the side of the angels."  -Catholic report thing
And just so you know, Bill has no problem if the offensive speech is catholic.  For example, January 30 shows us pretty clearly that he thinks Catholic Schools should be free of such petty things as human rights and tolerance toward individuals who don't agree with your religion.  But we shouldn't tolerate this kind of intolerance, wasn't that his point?  Can he seriously not imagine people getting angry enough to become violent about it?  Ruining people's lives, running campaigns of hate against them, is still a violent kind of intolerance.

Back to the initial letter.

Those who work at this newspaper have a long and disgusting record of going way beyond the mere lampooning of public figures, and this is especially true of their depictions of religious figures. For example, they have shown nuns masturbating and popes wearing condoms. They have also shown Muhammad in pornographic poses.
 So, let's get this right.  He first says they have a long history of going beyond mere lampooning, but doesn't really show anything that's gone beyond lampooning?  Catholics rape little boys, but talking about it is the bad thing?   I'm sorry, but where did this cross the line, and since when is 'lampooning' a 'mere' thing?  Satire is a useful tool, and Bill has absolutely no problem calling his followers to be violent in the face of this exact kind of violence.  He seems to forget about those catholic crusades, Salem witch trials, more recently anti-LGBT stuff that has caused such people to kill themselves because of exactly this sort of intolerance.  You don't have to be holding a rifle and firing bullets to promote the kind of intolerance that kills people.

While some Muslims today object to any depiction of the Prophet, others do not. Moreover, visual representations of him are not proscribed by the Koran. What unites Muslims in their anger against Charlie Hebdo is the vulgar manner in which Muhammad has been portrayed. What they object to is being intentionally insulted over the course of many years. On this aspect, I am in total agreement with them.

Not sure what the first sentence has to do with anything.  You can find in-groups within any group of people who object to anything, and others who do not.  Reversed, it's like saying some Christians object to the Westboro stance on homosexuality, and some do not (Bill appears to agree with it, see June 3)

But let's keep moving.  Sentence two, he backtracks.  Either all muslims object to it and are angered by it, or not all muslims object and thereby cannot be angry about it.  This is logic 101, you can't have it both ways.  And even if they're angry about it, what has that got to do with killing apostates?  Sentence three belies his underlying stance, that somehow making fun of a religion is making fun of its adherents.  This is not true at all.  You are allowed to believe in an ethereal being, and I'm allowed to believe that's crazy.  I have to respect your ability to hold opinions, no the opinions themselves, especially if they are unfounded in any observable evidence.  Telling me you talk to unicorns and telling me you talk to Jesus are roughly commensurate.  No one has provided a test that would demonstrate the existence of either.  If someone had, we'd fund it with our science tax money.  If either were shown real, someone would win the Nobel prize.
 Another picture Bill thinks it is okay to be very angry about.

But back again to the arguments at hand.  He agrees it's good to be angry because someone 'insults' an idea that you happen to hold.  What if I were angry that you didn't believe in brownie monsters?  What if I said it was alright that people who don't believe in brownie monsters were right to be angry when told maybe they don't exist? What if I said I was angry enough to justify people who killed other people for making fun of brownie monsters, leprechauns, gnomes, unicorns, and other beasts that only I and other believers in them could see?  Is this a defensible position?  Because this is EXACTLY the sort of thing you are defending, Bill.  You're saying it's okay to be angry because your indefensible position is being called into question, or 'insulted' as you like to say.

Creationism is an insult to Evolutionary Science (sure, you did all that science, but we're just going to belittle all that and say some skydaddy made everything instead - because science is silly?) in exactly the same way Hebdo is an insult to religion.  If you want to argue one, you have to argue every case like this, and that's the fallacy.

Part two next time, since I have to go do my real-world work thing now.