And now for some distinctions that will be lost on our new visitors, particularly Sisyphus who believes all Muslims are Islamists so anyone, like me, who thinks Islamism is dangerous therefore hates all Muslims. That’s an interesting thread to follow and one which, by its lumping together of all adherents to a particular faith according to his own prejudices, makes Sisyphus an “Islamophobe”. There’s something horribly fascinating about watching a man crush himself with his own argument.
Despite your spending more time here and writing more than me or anyone else, it’s my ‘Blog, Sisyphus. I don’t have to provide definitions of either Islam or Islamism for you, neither do I have to conform to your ideas of what is or isn’t worthy of comment. You’ll find all the definitions you need here and a guide to the myriad examples of faulty reasoning you have illustrated with your comments here. I recommend the latter book to all students who, like you, have difficulty in constructing robust arguments. Your output, however, is too obviously broken to provide any useful teaching examples.
Here’s the first distinction. For the record, my post about injuries caused at a stoning ceremony made no criticism of Islam or of Muslims. In contrast, this post does. I believe that the metaphysical beliefs of most practising Muslims are wrong. I also believe that the metaphysical beliefs of most practising Christians are wrong, as I believe that the metaphysical beliefs of most practising Jews are wrong. I’m not pointing out the latter two facts because I feel I am obliged to be balanced, but because I want to make my disagreement as wide-ranging as possible, that people understand just how fundamental it is. I believe that, if I wanted to, I should be free to devote all of PooterGeek’s content to criticism of the theory and practices of Islam. I don’t, but I wouldn’t have to apologise for it if I did.
I don’t believe all religious activities are wrong or even that religious belief is generally bad for people—quite the contrary: religious people often do good and great things for the glory of their gods and atheism tends to make you miserable. I do, however, believe that all religions are wrong in the philosophical and scientific senses about the nature of human existence. Further, the practices of most faiths include activities to which I object. I object to many of them on PooterGeek. I have never previously objected to any of the practices of Islam here, but if I feel like it, I will, even until agents of this government foolishly try to stop me. In parts of the country where I was born (in a Catholic mission hospital, as it happens), making such declarations in public would be rather more dangerous. I am proud that now I live somewhere where I am free to deny ghosts and fairy tales and passed-on lies and denounce the crimes they are used to justify.
I write the above because yesterday morning a Muslim friend phoned me up to tell me that my “recent posts” were “unacceptable”, and not because of anything else demanded of me here in the past few days from obsessive-compulsives with a craving for public humiliation. While he was on the phone, I asked my friend to click on the “Religion” subject link that PooterGeek helpfully provides while I ran through with him the targets of my previous posts on that subject in reverse chronological order. You can try it yourself now. I haven’t changed anything on this site since then. I read through twelve without hitting a single one that even mentioned Islam—never mind Muslims—before I had to get to an appointment. Sisyphus likes “patterns” and “statistics”. Despite my supposedly being an “Islamophobe”, exactly none of my posts about religion criticises Islam—never mind Muslims. It is the greatest achievement of my current hecklers that they have actually prompted me to write one that does.
These other posts were—unlike my stoning post—often direct attacks on the beliefs and practices of other faiths. So, apart from not being critical of Islam—as many of my others were critical of other religions—what was distinctive about that entry on PooterGeek? The difference was, after my posting it, a pair of ideologues rewrote it in their own bigoted terms and condemned me for what I hadn’t said.
Returning to my bright and thoughtful, but wrong, telephone correspondent, what is “unacceptable” is the harassment of individuals for criticising systems of thought and criticising public practices—not criticising people, not criticising cultures, not even criticising faiths (though I wouldn’t apologise for those either), but for criticising ideologies and actions. You can believe in God, Allah, Yahweh, Santa Claus, or the Great Pumpkin. I will disagree with you, but I would never deny you your personal delusions. If, however, you want to burn witches, mutilate the genitals of children or, indeed, indulge in ceremonies that result in death and injury then I am going to exercise my right to mock, if I feel like it, or not mock, if I don’t. It’s something I would go to jail for.
In this particular case, as I have pointed out repeatedly, I didn’t mock. Now I am mocking. Stoning ceremonies of any kind are very silly indeed. The deaths they cause are not funny. It is precisely because I believe that dying is a serious matter (there not being an afterlife) that I spend my working days trying to find ways of postponing other people’s deaths and that now, in my free time, I formally denounce superstitions that cause fatalities. Whoever the practitioners are or however they choose to describe themselves their actions will always be morally wrong. People (actually only two so far out of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of regulars at this site) can call me a racist, or an Islamophobe, or a parakeet until they explode with synthetic indignation, but it won’t make me so. Stones are not demons. Bread and wine are not flesh and blood. Religion is no excuse for evil. And Heaven help us if we ever legislate it so.
As for you, Sisyphus and “Anon” (Benjy), I am bored, as most people here I am sure are, with your your lies, your libels and your persistence (however apt). Most of all I am bored with your stupidity. You won’t believe me, but I like it when people come here and disagree with me in a way that truly makes me think. There was a brief period yesterday where you threatened to start an interesting and informed (if irrelevant) argument about Iraq war casualties, but you even managed to blow that. You are now barred. Do you think me intolerant? If so, that would be the last and only time you have been right. It makes no difference. On PooterGeek, I am God. Now fuck off.
Skipped to the last two paragraphs sorry, it was all a bit over my head. Again. (Does this mean I’m thick?). But the last two sentences – classic! You’re like the train driver from Matrix Revolutions…..
“If they existed they’d proabably sue”
THREE important files were erased and 500 others suffered corruption as they were FTP’ed to perform the “uploading of the MP3s” ritual on Pootergeek, Slashdot reported today. The hardware failure was triggered by the arrival of a small number of forum trolls carrying their personal beliefs to excess at the portal of the uploading on a blog often called “The Profound”. The online geek news service quoted Webmaster Dam’n Wheel-i bin Quon’sal as saying that a number of naughty JPEGs also got resized as a result of the transfer to share three 1MB blocks symbolising Napster.
I couldn’t agree more with Leasey’s ‘(Does this mean I’m thick?) But the last two sentences – classic!
Keep up the good work.
I just stop reading for a few days, and all hell breaks loose. Why didn’t someone tell me? (RSS? What’s that?)
Anyway, nice one, Damian.
Cheers mate. I’m not an atheist, but I know how you feel. I’ve been slandered as an Islamophobe by people who were close to me, purely because they couldn’t conceive of any other reason why anyone would disagree with their geopolitical views. Horrible.
Well said Mr. Counsell.
All that’s missing is the lightning striking on a clear day.
For yours is the power, and the glory, and the blog, now and forever…
Great work Pootmeister… I’m going to buy that faulty reasoning book for sure. It might come in handy!
Full support here, apart from the bit about a parakeet. Aratingaphobic?
Cheers, PG,. I’m not as certain of my agnosticism as I used to be but the tenor of the thing is spot on.
[…] Jonathan Derbyshire makes a point that every militant atheist should concede: As Jeremy Waldron makes clear in his remarkable book God, Locke, and Equality, the principle of human equality articulated in the Second Treatise, which he says with good reason is just about the best worked-out "theory of basic equality … we have in the canon of political philosophy", is an axiom of theology. It is, says Waldron, "the most important truth about God’s way with the world in regard to the social and political implications of His creation of the human person". (Nietzsche thought the same, incidentally, which is why he was sceptical of the principle of equality, and of the related notions of pity and compassion.) […]