Monday, September 11, 2006
It's All Richard Pryor's Fault

So, this guy thinks we unbelievers should stop making jokes at the expense of religion:

[Secularism] is a matter of cultural change, and, ironically, it will be a change that depends entirely on the acceptance of atheists by religious believers. Atheists who would like to change that might profitably ask themselves if insulting religious believers will hasten that day. They might consider if their, at times brilliant, mockery of religion has perhaps played any role in their present day status with believers. When we talk about religion we are talking about people. Religion doesn't exist outside of people who have feelings that inform their opinions and votes.

Which is a fancy way of saying, "religious people can't take a joke, and if you don't stop teasing us we'll throw you to the fundamentalist wolves."

Yep, social minorities cracking jokes about the majority is obviously the problem, and we ignore that wisdom at our peril. I mean, take Richard Pryor for instance. Things were going so well for black people in America in the 70s, and then Pryor came along with his irreverent japery at the expense of honkies, and look what came of it -- 35 years later, the average income in a black household is still less than 60% of that in white households.

Damn that Richard Pryor and his lack of respect for the domninant social and cultural group. He ruined it for everybody.

Atheists on the left should cut out the blanket mocking of religious people. What do they hope to gain by it? Nothing that is worth the cost. Interestingly, it almost always lacks the objective observational acuity necessary for realism, usually the pride of atheists. "Religion" takes in an enormous range of beliefs. It is safe to assume that the range of religious variation is at least as wide as that found in politics. To lump together Quakers, Unitarian Universalists, Catholics, Jains, Oomotists, etc. and to ridicule them over their religion as if it was any one thing is the sign of a lazy mind.

Is it? Is it really? See, this was the final big realization for me during the process that ultimately led to my coming out as an unbeliever. I, too, spent several years defending certain types of religious people -- the "good" ones -- on the basis that they were "different." But that became very confusing, because they all say they're "different" -- and what's more, they also all say they're the only ones who are "right." How many liberal Christians have I known whose mantra has been, "please don't confuse us with those so-called Christians; we're different, and what's more, we're the "Real" Christians." I got sick to death of the unending battle between "Real" Christians and Real "Christians" and the Really-Fucking-Christian. Frankly, I don't care what you call your god/s, or what you do about it. It's the simple fact that you've got one that makes me uneasy.

So you don't hate queers and you believe in evolution. Well, bully for you, being so progressive with your bad self, believing in things that are patently obvious. We in the sane half of America welcome you with open arms. But if you must bring your imaginary friends (and their rather extensive cultural and historical baggage) in with you -- well, fine... but don't be surprised if some of us make light of your odd behavior.

Leftists who choose to strike a pose should be asked if they really think their ephemeral self-satisfaction is worth remaining out of power. It isn't a price that is worth it to any rational leftist.

So, giving expression to one's world-view, if one is an atheist, is "striking a pose" and thus deserves derision. But doing the same, if one is a buddhist, muslim, or even a "real" "christian," is the prerogative of the majority and thus demands unquestioning respect, no matter how absurd that world-view is. Hmmmmm.

Also, black people should stop making jokes about white people, because it might make white people stop supporting racial equality. And gays should never, ever laugh at straights, because all those "breeder" jokes make us uncomfortable, and then we might decide that denying them their rights is totally peachy-creamy, since they were so snotty and ungrateful about it.

In fact, no member of any social/culture minority should ever crack a joke at the expense of their would-be/might-be political majority benefactors -- even between themselves, no matter how uncomfortable it is to live in a society in which your identity and world-view work against you. Because you know, it only takes one sarcastic comment to change a dedicated, heartfelt liberal into a drooling, mouth-breathing fundamentalist Bush-voter. And then where would we be?*

PS: And that goes double for the genuinely funny jokes.

*Yep, Mississippi.
1:31 PM ::
Amy :: permalink