The veil of anonymity is something relatively new in human culture. The internet has brought it to everyday life, from tacky sexually-oriented chat rooms to comments on news articles to cyberstalking. The last 20 years have relieved us of the burden of accountability, such that in 1985, a letter to the editor might be signed, “Sincerely, John Doe,” while today the aires and graces of “sincerely” are not only gone, so is John’s identity. (An oddly notable exception might be CB radio in the 1970s and beyond.)
It didn’t take long to find such an anonymous enraged diatribe on 12tuesday.com (link rotted) that ended in, “What kind of sick fuck are you?” Answer: one who disagrees with you.
But on richardbarron.net, I don’t allow anonymity. In the original post to which I refer, I refrained from name-calling. I did, however, do something much worse: I legitimately challenged someone’s core beliefs. Of course it was met by anger, and of course that anger turned to name-calling. One of the most brilliant aspects of this name-calling is to accuse me of name-calling.
I have no intention of name-calling in return. In fact, near the end of the post I said, “I want Christians who read this to seriously consider a rational response to this.” Calling me names or doubting my intelligence or ancestry is not a rational response. But of course, we are dealing with people who believe in Christianity, which is not a rational belief system. (Note that I did not call anyone any names there.)
This isn’t meant as a Straw Man argument or an ad hominem attempt to negate Christianity through one very ill-mannered and ill-informed person, so much as it is what the courts might call character witness. Christians and their Abrahamic brethren make it their mission to call me an ignorant idiot, but say nothing to illustrate it or refute any of my arguments. My commenter, “Doc”, is just an example of the bellicosity that comes from the faithful. He said some deliberately unkind, and patently untrue, things about me and my writings that did nothing to change my mind or enlighten me or my readers in any way.
He did manage to slip in a threat, a sort of “I’ll be watching you” note, presumably intending to intimidate me. Intimidation is, after all, the Christian way, right?
If you’re a well-mannered, good-hearted Christian and it seems offensive that I would hang this on you and your ilk, consider that “Doc” and those like him are out there bullying and bad-mouthing people in the name of your religion, and that I didn’t ask anyone to call me an idiot, I asked for rational debate.
I thought of all this as I was considering the significance to Christianity of the crucifiction of Jesus, and how it is made out to be some sort of “ultimate sacrifice” that God gave his only son to die on the cross. I have news for Christians: dying a cruel death is common, particularly among soldiers who serve in defense of their nations. Everyone who dies a cruel death suffers and then are permanently dead. If we are to believe the Bible story, we must accept that Jesus suffered and died, like many humans on the planet making sacrifices for humanity, yet did not remain dead. The Gospel says Jesus was only dead two days. And given the Christian belief that God is omniscient, God knew this. So please explain how being dead for two days constitutes the ultimate sacrifice, or how killing your son, knowing he would only be dead two days, followed by eternal paradise, is a sacrifice at all.
I can’t help but look at this as a pretty silly story, almost the kind you tell a four-year-old. It has conflict, a hero, and a positive outcome, but is short on facts and sensibility.
I’m not the first person to say all this, or even the first person to say all this today, but I need to say it: this belief system is idiotic.
Another important point I want to make is that the people who seem to present themselves as the most patriotic are almost always the ones who don’t truly believe in the most patriotic concept of all in America, freedom. To them so often, freedom is the freedom to be heterosexual Christians. Freedom is the the freedom to condemn people different from them, most significantly people with different religious beliefs. Sure, we all think that our beliefs are the correct ones or we would change them, so by definition, we all feel that other belief systems are wrong. What’s really troubling about the conservative far right is that they honestly don’t think you should be allowed to be an atheist, a Muslim, a homosexual, etc. They have a lot of practice at this flavor of intolerance, since they spend a lot of time and energy telling you that other Christians, like Catholics and Lutherans, are doing it wrong.
I know. Intolerance is the way the human brain is wired, and in some ways you have to look at it as some kind of survival strategy, some kind of desperate effort to conjure strength in numbers through hive mentality. In that respect we can forgive it to some degree. If you have some rational thought to add to this, from any point of view, you are welcome to comment, using your real name, a valid email address, and most importantly, manners.