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Nov 28 2010

Can we please stop having religion, people?

So this idiot punk-ass Somali kid decides he wants to be a big jihad hero and set off a bomb in Portland, and is exactly dumb enough to walk right into a sting. I imagine the FBI was having a hard time not laughing as they handed him the cell phone he thought would trigger a massive explosion. “Dude, it’ll be just like on 24, except this time you’re the good guy!”

On Sunday some clodhoppers decide to retaliate by burning down the Islamic Center the kid attended, though they only managed to scorch part of it a little bit and cause some smoke damage.

In the midst of all this, we have the unsurprising spectacle of Christopher Hitchens turning Tony Blair into thin strips of beef tripe in a debate over whether religion is a “force for good” in the world. The only debate there is whether anyone who would answer yes to that question is merely deluded or maliciously ignorant.

Religion, more and more, is being revealed as a haven for lunatics willing to commit all manner of lunacy to curry the favor of an imaginary father figure. I see precious few good guys, only idiots with competing holy books trying to outdo one another’s monumental acts of barbarism. Whatever good “faith” may be doing anyone is well hidden from view, at best. Can everybody please just let it go already?

…Sorry. Slipped into a little reverie there. Back to bad old reality yet again.

17 comments

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  1. 1
    MAtheist

    When will it end Martin, when will it end?Nothing to kill or die for And no religion too Imagine all the people Living life in peace -John LennonWhy does religion seem to automatically earn respect, especially when the same patterns are repeated over and over, and the "can't we all just get along" attitude does not cut it. A belief that is wrong, or held for the wrong reasons, leads to harm. From the simplest "I believe I can fly" … thud … to "my god tells me it is OK to kill them because they do this", is just a small range of the problem.Open your eyes people, lets have some honesty, and stop hiding behind religion.

  2. 2
    J

    Martin,I agree with the sentiment, but there's some question as to just how radicalized this kid really was, or if it was politically-expedient entrapment instead:http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2010/11/28/fbi/index.htmlI don't know where to place my cards, but being a good skeptic, it was a bit of a red flag to me that every single news agency was simply lapping up the story uncritically. (Not that we have a decent 4th Column anymore anyway…)

  3. 3
    Martin

    I'm going to err on the side of caution and say it's better to have him off the streets. You might ask whether the kid would really have done what he wanted to do if the opportunity weren't handed to him, and here the answer seems to be yes. He was handed a cell phone he was told would set off a bomb in a crowd, killing thousands, and he took it and punched the numbers. He didn't have a sudden attack of conscience and go, "Wait, this is wrong." It's kind of the whole point of a sting operation. The FBI didn't take a nice, innocent kid and put the idea into his mind to be a mass murderer. They just pretended to give him the means to do something he said he wanted to do, and lo and behold, he did it. It's not unlike those cases you see on TV shows all the time, where a cop will pretend to be a hit man talking to a guy who wants his wife killed, or a cop pretends to be a child on the internet talking to a pedophile who wants to arrange sex. It's not like they take a man who loves his wife dearly and rewire his mind so that he suddenly wants her dead, simply so that they can arrest him. The husband genuinely thinks he's talking to a hired killer. Is this entrapment? Well, IANAL. In each case there's no question the perp really thinks he's getting an opportunity to commit a crime. I'd rather he was being fooled and the situation resulted in no dead victims, rather than otherwise.

  4. 4
    Mauricio Duque

    I kind can relate to the topic, its like when i feel some times, tired of all the crap that religion sell as true.If it will end? I think no, always theres some crap that people wants to believe, because they think reality is too much hollow, or because they think life need some higher order.Maybe the right question is: Religion will became a minority?To that question i would say, yes, but not soon enough.Iam happy with reality as it is, its not made for us, but being flaw as it is, its still better than some god toying with us as he see fits.

  5. 5
    Warren Grubb

    I feel all you're saying, but these arguments get so mushy in debates. Theists always wiggle around with the "oh there is so much good done because of religion, you just pick the bad seeds, there are plenty of people who commit atrocities because they don't believe there is a God to hold them accountable." And then you have to argue they aren't committing atrocities because of a lack of belief and then they argue these people killing in the name of religion aren't really religious, etc. It's painful. I'm not saying that isn't a valid line of debate, but I just wish they would agree to tackle the "is it real" question first and all these other questions would be moot.

  6. 6
    Blake

    Did each of Portland's finest act on what god told them to do?

  7. 7
    ChaosSong

    I'm surprised you didn't mention the 'Ugly Betty" killer:http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/11/27/ugly-betty-actor-michael-_n_788720.html* "I didn't kill her. I killed the demon inside her," he said in an interview with New York's Daily News.* "I asked, 'Do you believe in God?' She said, 'No, Michael no,' and began screaming. I began slashing her like this," he told the Daily News, demonstrating a hacking motion with his hand. * He added: "I didn't want to kill her right away. I wanted to give her time to get right with God," he said.I wouldn't necessarily say that religion made this guy crazy – but at the very least it made him that much more terrifying…

  8. 8
    magx01

    At the very least (regarding that actor's case) religion is certainly not something you want to feed someone with such a psychological profile/mental instability. Especially a religion as divisve as good ol' christinsanity.

  9. 9
    borkhead

    The other day I was in a Muslim country and headed down to the track for a jog. There was a woman in full burqa doing laps. “Can we please stop having religion, people?” is exactly the thought that crossed my mind.

  10. 10
    Ingersoll Blog

    IS the Hitchens debate up anywhere yet?

  11. 11
    J

    @Ingersoll Blog:It's been going up and down for a few days as Munk files DMCA notices against the posters. Here's one that works currently:http://www.youtube.com/user/DailyHitchens22#grid/user/835D4B3A3F5B1574@Martin:You're probably right, though I'm not sure if it's so cut-and-dry, if the government egged him on each and every step of the way. In the end, though, he did press the button. It's just especially difficult lately to trust the news, given all the fuss with the TSA gate rape and the Wikileaks reports, and knowing that while the State Dept. refused to give them a list of names to redact, but 5 international news agencies basically fell all over themselves to ask the US what to censor. Stunning, guys.But, I should be skeptical of my own skepticism :-) Damn, that's skeptical.

  12. 12
    Sam

    Based on the long article I read about this story, the undercover agents gave the perpetrator many opportunities to back out. When he chose the Christmas tree lighting ceremony, the undercover agent cautioned him that lots of children would be there, and the guy talked about how that was what he was going for. It seemed pretty clear that this guy really wanted to do this.

  13. 13
    McKertis

    "They just pretended to give him the means to do something he said he wanted to do"..And last time i checked, it was illegal in USia. So maybe he would have done it anyway, except the means wouldnt present themselves until years later, at which point the tracking and REAL preventing of such crimes would be much more effective. Or maybe the means wouldnt be available to the rest of his life.

  14. 14
  15. 15
    Martin

    McKertis: Then you haven't checked very carefully. Sting operations happen all the time and, legally, do not fall under entrapment if it can be shown there was no coercion on the part of law enforcement to manipulate an otherwise law-abiding citizen to do something that, left to his own devices, he would never have done. If it comes out in the trial that the FBI took a totally innocent kid, put the idea to set off a bomb in his head, then led him by his nose to do the deed, then yes, they will have entrapped him and he'll get off scot free. I imagine there will be a vigorous defense to that effect. Considering that the suspect is on record enthusiastically boasting of his fervent desire to blow the shit out of innocent people, it may be a difficult sell. Here's an article with more information on the tricky legality of stings.infi: Well, what that looks like is a ludicrously ham-fisted exercise in domestic spying and the sort of fishing expedition that makes cops look like fools. Of course, that you can point to instances of this kind of thing happening is not proof that all sting operations are legally entrapment. Each case has to be taken on its own merits.Anyway, people seem to be missing the point of my original post. It wasn't to offer an opinion, either pro or con, on the use of sting operations, but to illustrate more examples of how religion inspires lunacy and violent fantasies, and how it'd sure be swell if we had less of that.

  16. 16
    J

    A fair point, one to which I wholeheartedly agree :-)

  17. 17
    Sungyak

    i'm curious as to which argument of hitchens' you're espousing. i don't think i recall him making any in anything he says or writes. his repetitive talking points do well with his usual audience though. if he has made a philosophical argument with premises leading to a conclusion, please do enlighten me.

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