I haven’t written anything on the many suicides of bullied teens. Partially because it’s so awful I have a hard time willing myself to actually sit down and think about it for any length of time. Dan Savage has been at the front of this, starting the “It Gets Better” video series and generally being willing to speak out for the kids who aren’t being treated right.
One thing he’s done that has pissed some people off is to accuse religion, particularly Christianity, particularly Fundamentalist Christianity, of being complicit at best in the bullying, harassment, and assaults that led to these children taking their own lives.
The dehumanizing bigotries that fall from lips of “faithful Christians,” and the lies that spew forth from the pulpit of the churches “faithful Christians” drag their kids to on Sundays, give your straight children a license to verbally abuse, humiliate and condemn the gay children they encounter at school. And many of your straight children—having listened to mom and dad talk about how gay marriage is a threat to the family and how gay sex makes their magic sky friend Jesus cry himself to sleep—feel justified in physically attacking the gay and lesbian children they encounter in their schools. You don’t have to explicitly “encourage [your] children to mock, hurt, or intimidate” gay kids. Your encouragement—along with your hatred and fear—is implicit. It’s here, it’s clear, and we can see the fruits of it.
I think Dan has a hard time choosing between most Christians are gay bashers and most gay bashers are Christian. The second is definitely true, in the US at least. The more religious you are, the more likely you are to teach your kids that homosexuality is evil or, as someone told me the other day in an attempt to really sell me on the idea that he was a liberal Christian and ok with LGBT, “gays are no worse than murderers”.
I agree with Dan, Christianity and the religious right in this country are absolutely complicit in making it OK for kids to say horrible things about homosexuals. I think he’s also responding to things like the Prop 8 campaign, which made a point of never explicitly saying that gays will fuck your children, but heavily implied it and was funded by the Mormon and Catholic churches. As long as Christians think that it’s OK for their faith to allow them to treat homosexuals as less than human (and yes, refusing to support gay marriage is treating them as less than human) they are supporting bullying. They ARE bullying, just in a less personal way.
I’m not sure how people are missing that, so I’ll say it again: if you don’t support the right to gay marriage you are a monstrous bully. If you think you’re morally superior to the kids who drove these children to suicide, you are not. You are worse, because you’re old enough to know better. If your religion tells you to treat other people as subhuman, then your faith is evil.
I will stop accusing Fundamentalist Christians of being bigots when they stop acting like them.
I have no camera, but I do have an iMac. Apologies for any legibility issues, it says, “Notice: No Squid! This is Bullshit! PZ Myers.”
That’s the Gideon Bible what I stole and kept because it was green. I stole it because that’s generally my MO in hotels, but I didn’t throw it away because it was green and I didn’t have a Bible to
desecrate reference. I got it signed because I had the brilliant idea at midnight when talking to a friend who was super jealous he couldn’t go.
I’ll probably do a separate post about the whole conference thing, but the dinner was really neat. Firstly, there was someone else wearing the Squid vs. Noah shirt, and there was a very cool and interesting guy from Anchorage/Irvine/England who was wearing lime green. I have forgotten his name. There was also Phil Zuckerman and a cute blonde guy in glasses, who were sitting a bit down the table but occasionally joined in.
But dinner was really cool because it was basically just hanging out with some really interesting smart people who enjoyed snark. And I learned new things about PZ. We hit a broad range of topics but I’ll give the highlights.
We talked about his experiments with zebrafish. Apparently fish in captivity are really dumb, and fish in the wild are really clever. I’m not sure how much to talk about because apparently some jerkface stole something about the zebrafish experiments from PZ’s blog and published it so I don’t want to spoil anything. Suffice to say we spent a long time talking about zebrafish and it was pretty interesting.
We talked about Neanderthals. I asked how do we decide that Neanderthals are a different species from us since we could interbreed, to which PZ gave the witty reply that they are all dead, that’s how. I’m fond of Neanderthals because they had red hair.
We talked about the Uncanny Valley and the creepy proportions of the Shroud of Turin. And how the fingers look like they’re made of rubber. Funny Alaskan said they were tentacles, and I made a jab about Onanism with tentacles for fingers and PZ drifted into a reverie for a moment or two.
I got to be directly catty about the comments in favor of the genital nicking on the part of pediatrics. I feel often that my comments are fairly ignored over there, which isn’t that big of a deal, comments seem mostly about hearing yourself talk anyway, but it was nice to feel heard on the issue.
I found out PZ’s opinion on Andrew Sullivan (nuanced), Episcopalians (relatively OK with), men hijacking any thread about women to make it all about them and their issues (aware of), Dr. Who (for), Macs (for), Linux (against!), PZed (against!), Australians (arrogant bastards insist on saying PZed), and steak (medium).
I also got to see the cover of his upcoming book which apparently needs to be written. I give the cover a B+. It has tentacles, an elephant and a great deal of purple, but it doesn’t have PZ and there’s something weird about the color scheme in general. I suggested he get a quote from Trophy Wife TM and if that happens I’m just going to go ahead and claim credit right now.
I never quite figured out what he was vaguely irritated with Michael Shermer for. Michael Shermer, by the way, looks eerily like Jonathan Pryce and has a weird arrogant swagger to him that is both compelling and a bit unsettling. He was super nice when I talked to him and I got his newest book, so nothing personal there, just an observation.
I also saw PZ at lunch where he said he knew what his grandmother’s face looked like when she orgasmed, made fun of Utah and Mormons, and laughed heartily at my True Stories About Atheism. I made my mother’s friend cry when I told her I was an atheist. Hysterically she asked, “Don’t you want to get married and have a family?!” I told my ex-Catholic mother when she was taking me to college that I was atheist and she said, “I’m so disappointed you don’t believe you’re going to Hell. Wait, that came out wrong.”
There was lots more and I don’t remember it right now, but if I think of it, I promise I’ll add it. It was totally worth the money. And not just for PZ but for the other interesting people who also wanted to have dinner with PZ. It was all very snarky and civilized.
I forgot to ask him if he’ll do a bit appearance in Bible Con, my script making fun of Christians and atheists, if it actually gets made.
EDIT: The rest of the story: http://ashleyfmiller.wordpress.com/2010/05/11/ocfa-conference-2010-where-i-met-pz/