Take note, Mr. Plait: This is “being a dick”


There has been some concern among certain folks in the skeptical community that “expressing an opinion strongly and with conviction” constitutes “being a dick,” because it might bruise the tender feelings of believers. This concern is misplaced. From England’s green and pleasant land we have a literally staggering act of actual dickishness. Said to be nearly 2000 years old and planted by Joseph of Arimathea (and whether that’s true or not really isn’t relevant to the situation), the Holy Thorn Tree of Glastonbury has been a popular destination for believers on pilgrimages. The other night, some vandals hacked off all its branches, leaving nothing but a naked stump.

That, I submit, is dickishness of the first water.

Comments

  1. says

    The sidebar proves that it isn't quite the tragedy it's made out to be in the main story:Roundheads felled the tree during the English Civil War, when forces led by Oliver Cromwell (pictured) waged a vicious battle against the Crown.However, locals salvaged the roots of the original tree, hiding it in secret locations around Glastonbury.It was then replanted on the hill in 1951. Other cuttings were also grown and placed around the town – including its famous Glastonbury Abbey.So, it supposedly is grown from the cuttings of a 2000 year old tree. The fact of the matter is though, that is was planted in 1951. People cut down trees twice as old every day and no one says dick(heh). it's hardly an ancient monument. it's a tourist trap bilking the faithful out of their money. Seems like this incident is an overall win to me.

  2. says

    In fact, now that I think about it, can one even grow a tree from 400~ year old cuttings? I'm skeptical. Those things have been dead a LONG time. That would make it even more of a tourist trap.

  3. says

    It doesn't matter how true it is. Vandalizing things that are not your property in order to show your discontent with religious belief is being a dick. The Shroud of Turin is a fake, too, but that doesn't make it any less dickish for me to splatter paint on it.

  4. says

    Oh come on, that's just good sacrilegious fun. Anyway, aren't Christians not supposed to have idols? Maybe it was a *true* Christian who mauled the tree.

  5. says

    "It doesn't matter how true it is. Vandalizing things that are not your property in order to show your discontent with religious belief is being a dick. The Shroud of Turin is a fake, too, but that doesn't make it any less dickish for me to splatter paint on it."I agree but I don't see where this has been shown yet to be a deliberate act of religious desecration vs. the petty vandalism of a bunch of drunk hoodlums.

  6. Martin says

    It's hardly likely that anyone local to the area would not have been aware of the tree and its significance.This event was not "good fun" nor a "win," and it's dickish to say so. It was a crime, and very likely a religiously motivated hate crime. Thinking it's okay to destroy something through vandalism because it's a "tourist trap" is fucking idiotic. The Creation Museum is the stupidest thing ever built, but if you burned it down you'd still be an arsonist.

  7. says

    thinking it's okay to destroy something through vandalism because it's a "tourist trap" is fucking idiotic. The Creation Museum is the stupidest thing ever built, but if you burned it down you'd still be an arsonist.No, I don't think it's okay to destroy just because it's a tourist trap. I think it's a non-story because It's a fucking tree. a fucking tree that is young as trees go,and a tree that is has been set up as a deliberate hoax to bilk people out of money. I wouldn't shed a tear if someone vandalised the Paulxy human footprints either.

  8. says

    It would have been a dick thing to do to a tree even without the religious stuff. I'm not convinced that it makes it more dickish just because people have attached weird mythology to it, but it's enough that some people cared about it (for whatever reason, it would be enough that people just liked it because it was pretty).Hacking up a tree for no reason, even if no one else cared about the tree, would still be a dickish thing to do.

  9. says

    JT wrote:> "Mocking the tree xor critizing it are fine. But thar's a line.So, uhh, mocking and criticizing it would be out of bounds, but mocking without criticism or criticism without mocking would be OK? I think I need a Karnaugh map.Oh, and Martin – that's the first time I've come across the expression "of the first water." I thought you must have meant "order," but fortunately I looked it up.

  10. Martin says

    Jeff: As far as I've been able to find out, no one was charged any money to visit the tree, making your claim that the tree was "set up as a deliberate hoax to bilk people out of money" dubious at best. The Glastonbury Abbey dates back to the 12th century, and as such the whole place has deep historical and archaeological significance, which makes your comparison to the pathetic Paluxy Man Tracks total horseshit. If the vandalism was a religious hate crime, then it's not a non-story. In fact, even if it wasn't, and was just a bunch of drunk clods who thought it would be fun to desecrate a historical site, it's not a non-story. Even if it's just because it was a tree — oh, excuse me, a fucking tree — it was still senseless public property damage.

  11. skepticmatt says

    From the article:"Avon and Somerset police have begun an investigation but because there was no tree preservation order on the Holy Thorn, it means the vandals are unlikely to be prosecuted."So evidently it wasn't even a crime. It was chopping some branches off a tree. Dickish perhaps, but harmless. And if the perpetrators were kids or drunk or both, I say give them a pass on the dickishness as well.

  12. says

    "Even if it's just because it was a tree — oh, excuse me, a fucking tree — it was still senseless public property damage."I agree and I hope they catch the sods that did it. Whether it's religiously motivated or not. There are some really vicious and despicable people who get their kicks out of targeting monuments for some reason: they'll topple majestic old saguaros in Arizona and, I seem to recall, a hole in the rock type of structure that was torn apart by vandals in some state. And then you have the religiously/politically motivated vandals like the Taliban and the Afghan Buddhas. I also seem to recall some vandalism that was conducted by some leftists against churches during the Spanish Civil War in the Thirties.I can see how the locals would be upset. It looked like a lovely old tree and setting.

  13. Martin says

    That's pretty much what I was getting at, David. Again I just don't understand this whole "if it's not a crime it's no big deal to senselessly destroy something" attitude, but that just goes to show you.We had a similar act of vandalism here in Austin about 20 years ago. Pointless, malicious destruction, whether against a historical/religious target or not, ought to be offensive to civilized people all on its own.

  14. says

    no one was charged any money to visit the tree, making your claim that the tree was "set up as a deliberate hoax to bilk people out of money" dubious at bestDo you not understand how tourist traps work? They aren't so you can charge 5 or 10 bucks to see it. they are to bring people to the town, who then spend money on hotels, restaurants, transportation, and souvenirs. The Glastonbury Abbey dates back to the 12th century, and as such the whole place has deep historical and archaeological significance, which makes your comparison to the pathetic Paluxy Man Tracks total horseshit. You're aware that puluxy man tracks are literally right next to one of the greatest collection of dinosaur footprints in the world, right? Or do you not think that something like that has deep historical significance? If the vandalism was a religious hate crime, then it's not a non-story.You have ZERO reason to suspect this. You are talking out of your ass, with your only source being a tabloid newspaper who's ideology lays slightly to the right of Adolph Hitler(who incidentally, it supported), and who has never let the truth get in the way of it's fascist spin on things. Even if it's just because it was a tree — oh, excuse me, a fucking tree — it was still senseless public property damage. Oh, the Horror! Public property damage!A religious hate crime! Yes, cutting down a 60 year old tree placed there as a tourist trap is just like the night of broken glass. They should probably be hung when they are caught.And how do you know it was senseless? You have no idea who cut this tree down. It could have been mayor ginning up public notice for more tax dollars(err…pounds) for all you know, becuase you know next to nothing about this incident. Really dude, try some skepticism. It would be much more becoming.

  15. says

    Some comments on that article are hilarious:"Fear not. Remember what happened when they cut off Samson's hair. Real strength is rooted in the heart… The tree will flourish.""Could I come and collect the wood for the fire??"Do I agree with the action? No, the tree wasn't hurting anyone. But I don't really care either. I don't see much difference between this tree and a pair of socks that Elvis wore being framed and proudly hung on a wall. It's all the same stupid human behavior, like wearing shiny rocks on your body. It's dumb. It's primitive. Maybe this will push some people to grow up.

  16. Martin says

    Well, one big difference would be the socks aren't alive. The only human behavior associated with the tree is that people ascribed religious significance to it. It never asked for that, and now it's been all chopped up because of it. I mean, I know the tree isn't a thinking being, but it is a lifeform that's had needless damage done to it because of human stupidity.Again, the point of the OP was that, as much as you may disdain and criticize someone's absurd beliefs, vandalism is uncool. Is that really such a controversial point?

  17. says

    It's pointless destruction of something that was important to people, and which (regardless of who did it) is liable to add to the Christian persecution complex. So yeah, this is not a good thing. In fact I can't think of any definite benefit to taking one of the least harmful legends in Christianity and treating it as if it was a physical threat.I hope they replant the damn thing in the exact same place all over again, just to be a slap in the face to whatever assholes thought it was appropriate to destroy something that didn't belong to them, just because it was beloved by someone else.@Jeff"Do you not understand how tourist traps work? They aren't so you can charge 5 or 10 bucks to see it. they are to bring people to the town, who then spend money on hotels, restaurants, transportation, and souvenirs. "Oh no. You've caught them in their nefarious scheme to persuade people to stop by a historical site and entertain themselves. That's the most dastardly scam I've ever heard of."If the vandalism was a religious hate crime, then it's not a non-story.You have ZERO reason to suspect this."Uh, he only raised it as a possibility, he didn't say it was the case. And the fact that the vandals decide to cut down the one tree that is a famous goal of religious pilgrimages? Doesn't that suggest one should at least consider that religious bias was a factor? I wouldn't call it proof, but it's not "ZERO reason" either. And it isn't effected by your, uh, Godwin there."You have no idea who cut this tree down. It could have been mayor ginning up public notice for more tax dollars(err…pounds) for all you know, becuase you know next to nothing about this incident. Really dude, try some skepticism."Oh, it's a Poe. Ha! You got me!

  18. says

    Well yeah, vandalising stuff makes you a dick. Whether or not it has to do with the whole 'Don't be a dick, atheists' thing remains to be seen I guess.

  19. Martin says

    Jeff: Do you not understand how tourist traps work? They aren't so you can charge 5 or 10 bucks to see it. they are to bring people to the town, who then spend money on hotels, restaurants, transportation, and souvenirs.Well shit, Jeff, you've just described the entire global tourism industry. We might as well burn down Disneyland and Las Vegas.You have ZERO reason to suspect this. You are talking out of your ass, with your only source being a tabloid newspaper who's ideology lays slightly to the right of Adolph Hitler(who incidentally, it supported), and who has never let the truth get in the way of it's fascist spin on things.Godwinning and emotional hysterics for $1000, Alex. Congratulations, you've just guaranteed nothing you have to say on any subject will be taken seriously again.And how do you know it was senseless?You see sense in it?It could have been mayor ginning up public notice for more tax dollars(err…pounds) for all you know, becuase you know next to nothing about this incident. Really dude, try some skepticism.I'm trying to reconcile the second sentence with the one that comes before it and my irony meters keep shorting out. One thing I can assure you I'm very skeptical of is your grasp of reason. Maybe the tree was cut down by George Soros and his trained shock troops of space aliens. Why not get on the horn to Glenn Beck and see if he can work it all out on his chalkboard for you?

  20. says

    Really dude, try some skepticism.Skepticism isn't conjuring conspiracy theories out of thin air – that's paranoia.

  21. says

    Martin, I agree. As I posted, the tree wasn't hurting anyone. I also agree that vandalism is wrong.I used to raise orphaned baby raccoons. They had this habit that we called "coon money". They'd find little bits of fluff, twigs, bottle caps or anything and hide it all in a secret location. They made a big deal out of you not seeing where their money was and they'd become completely stressed if you touched it. They'd check it regularly by rolling each item around in their "hands".How much more advanced are we with our shiny rocks, socks and trees?I just have no patients for people investing intense emotions, as displayed in the comments of that article, into stupid things. If aliens showed up tomorrow I'd be ashamed of this type of primitive behavior.

  22. says

    good call martin. did you notice that the caption in the photo says joseph of arimathea "helped jesus of the cross"? that was actually simon from cyrene. joseph asked for the body of jesus and prepared the tomb.

  23. says

    From the last bit of the article:"The land on which the Holy Thorn stood is owned by Edward James, who was arrested this week in connection with an investigation into failed currency exchange firm Crown Currency Exchange, of which he is a director.According to the administrator’s report, Crown Currency collapsed owing £16million with little more than £3million in the bank. Last night there was speculation that the attack on the Holy Thorn may have been part of a vendetta against him."So… I don't see how this is religiously motivated harm. I think it's a good example of how the media colors stories like this to point in the direction of less-popular segments of society (like we atheists) when there's probably a perfectly sensible solution that's being overlooked (like, the vandals had a personal vendetta and may have even been Christians for all we know).

  24. says

    'I used to raise orphaned baby raccoons. They had this habit that we called "coon money".'That's pretty cute. I'd never heard of or seen that behavior before. I had coon when I was a kid. They can turn into mean little buggers when they get older.I'd better distinguish my posts, as I see there's another David posting here:David M

  25. Martin says

    Well, if the article is right about the vendetta angle, it still doesn't undermine my overall point. Here, two wrongs obviously didn't make a right, did they?

  26. says

    "That's pretty cute. I'd never heard of or seen that behavior before. I had coon when I was a kid. They can turn into mean little buggers when they get older."I've never been that close to them when they were adults because they went to a sanctuary at 8 months to a year old. The sanctuary re-introduced them into the wild.The babies all did it to varying degrees after about 6 months old. The funny thing was they'd completely ignore other bits of perfectly good fluff or twigs. They'd take a bottle cap off of a particular bottle in a group. If I took it back to replace it they'd never forget that particular bottle with that particular cap.Most were as tame as a cat but we had a few that were mean from the get go. They were pretty cute too. All that sound fury from an animal the size of a soft ball.

  27. says

    I don't support the actions of the vandals, and I do genuinely feel for the merchants and residents of Glastonbury who will no longer be able to fleece gullible Christians desperately seeking some external validation for their beliefs — but I don't suspect this will be a problem for long. I'm sure the residents will find another "original cutting" and they'll be back to fleecing the flock in no time.

  28. says

    Well shit, Jeff, you've just described the entire global tourism industry. We might as well burn down Disneyland and Las VegasAre you truly this mendacious? You asserted that the tree wasn't planted in 1951 to bilk people out of money because they didn't charge to see it(no one was charged any money to visit the tree, making your claim that the tree was "set up as a deliberate hoax to bilk people out of money" dubious at best.) I pointed out that charging for the attractions themselves are not why tourist traps exist, a point you seem agree with. Trapped, you then attempted to deflect by laying an absurd strawman on me. Pathetic. Godwinning and emotional hysterics for $1000, Alex. Congratulations, you've just guaranteed nothing you have to say on any subject will be taken seriously again.I see. It's truly awesome how you refuted my point here. Wait, you didn't. You attacked my character and accused me of violating godwin's law(which I didn't. comparing actual nazi supporters to nazi's is surly exempt). Still for the sake of argument, I'll cop to it. Now, tell me how you know the motivation for this crime, beyond the bare and unsupported assertions of a daily mail article. Maybe the tree was cut down by George Soros and his trained shock troops of space aliens. Why not get on the horn to Glenn Beck and see if he can work it all out on his chalkboard for you? Yes, you got me. Clearly, Your 'crazed athiest cuts down ancient historical religious icon' is the only possible conclusion one could draw from this story . When you look at the suspect's motive…well ok, not that, we don't have a suspect. But none the less, The big scarlet A painted on the trunk…no….that wasn't there….But it is an ancient and living historical religious artifact….except that it was planted in 1951. Still your theory is the only one that makes any sense. Mea culpa.

  29. says

    OH man. Hearing the raccoon money story gave me flash backs to Gulliver Travels. The Yahoos (a degenerate line of humans who have regressed into anarchy and mindlessness) are described almost EXACTLY like that with their shiny rocks.

  30. says

    "Now, tell me how you know the motivation for this crime, beyond the bare and unsupported assertions of a daily mail article."Jeff, if you read the article you'll notice that it does in fact make no assertions as to the motive, apart from mentioning the possible personal vendetta angle. So railing about how evil and biased the Daily Mail is is rather pointless.

  31. says

    So railing about how evil and biased the Daily Mail is is rather pointless.You are correct. The Daily Mail is a side issue at best. The issue really is how unskepticakly Martin read this story, as shown by his failure to mention that the tree was 60 years old, not 2000 or even 400, and his failure to point out that the government thought this tree was such a important religious and historical icon that they failed to place a tree preservation order or any other kind of protection on it. This is all of course in addition to the insinuation that Atheists cut down the tree, and that cutting down this tree amounted to a religious hate crime, despite the fact he has not word one of evidence for these allegations, and has thus far failed to even attempt to defend his silly assertions, instead choosing to go with strawmen and ad hominems.

  32. says

    "The issue really is how unskepticakly Martin read this story…"No, it isn't. You've accused Martin of basing his views on a biased article. Now you're accusing him of basing his views on a faulty reading of that article.It doesn't matter what the underlying motive was for cutting down that tree. Yes, it was just a tree, and yes, people worshipping a "miraculous" tree are silly and deserve to be mocked, but the fact is: physically vandalizing something, especially something cherished by many, for no good reason, is being a dick, no matter what motive is behind it. And approving of it is also being a dick.

  33. says

    You've accused Martin of basing his views on a biased article. Now you're accusing him of basing his views on a faulty reading of that article.those positions are not mutually exclusive. I fail to see your problem. It doesn't matter what the underlying motive was for cutting down that tree.physically vandalizing something, especially something cherished by many, for no good reason, is being a dickI see. So the motive doesn't matter, but the reason why does. Would you mind explaining the difference there? I'm not quite following you. Incidentaly, I'm fairly certain that martin was not saying this. Surely this isn't the first, worst or most high profile example of dickishness in general he's seen since the "Don't be a dick speech". No, instead, he imagined the motive to be anti-religious in nature, and thus defined it as an example of being a dick. Motive is key to this process. But I'll wait until you expound on the reason v. motive issue to make my final judgement.

  34. Afterthought_btw says

    I have to say (seeing as no-one else is :p) I'm leaning towards some of Jeff's arguments here. One of the tags for this article is: 'religiously motivated harm', and yet I see no evidence to back this up, other than the fact that the victim had religious significance. That isn't enough to cast it as religiously motivated harm in my eyes. Especially when there is the vendetta suggestion later in the article. I think you're making a bit of a leap to get to religious hate crime – and certainly you've danced around implying it was done by atheists by invoking the 'Don't be A Dick' speech/meme: even if it was religiously motivated, it could easily have been a different religion rather than atheists. (Although I may have inferred wrongly there, it was by no means clear) Also, I don't think the Godwinning suggestion is on – what he said is accurate: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daily_Mail#Support_for_fascism_under_Rothermere. Also, no comparison whatsoever is being made here, be it to the people he's arguing with, or about the object of your disagreement. All that is being done is a historical claim is being made which shows his dislike for the use of said paper as a source. If the paper had been one that supported Stalin, or sympathised with known murderers, or was openly racist and homophobic, etc, and that same point had been made, would things have been any different? This is little different in my eyes to someone saying the things that the Fox News channel comes out with shouldn't be taken as fact.But then I've never liked Godwin's corollary. Godwin's law's good with me, because it says nothing about whether it is valid to talk about Hitler or not, but the corollary seems to try to make Hitler into a 'He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named' sort of thing, as if we should avoid mentioning him at all costs.Anyway, the Daily Mail is not a reputable paper, by any stretch of the imagination, and so I think Jeff is justified in wanting more than an article by them to go on.Just a note – I do think that cutting this tree was a really nasty thing to do. Like I said, I don't agree with Jeff on everything.Anyway, just my two cents.I should probably take a cycle ride up to visit the crime scene actually, I live not far away from Glastonbury. Bizarre that I should find out about this via an atheist show in Texas, USA!

  35. says

    Perhaps the choice of words "for no good reason" was poor. So let me rephrase.Vandalization is dickish in and of itself. The level of dickishness increases when you vandalize something that is important to many people. It further increases if you do it specifically because those people attach significance to it.Currently we don't know if there was a motive beyond simple destruction for the thrill of it. So for now I'll categorize the incident as level 2 dickishness. If it turns out it was done for anti-religious motives, it will increase to level 3 supreme dickishness.But all in all it's safe to say they're dicks. And I find it hard to see this as "an overall win", as you put it in your first post.

  36. says

    Vandalization is dickish in and of itself.So, Banksy = Giant dick? If so, I guess we just don't see eye to eye on this one. Currently we don't know if there was a motive beyond simple destruction for the thrill of it.Would you mind telling Martin that? Because if he had considered that point, he wouldn't have ever written this stupid post. I find it hard to see this as "an overall win", as you put it in your first post.Like I said a while back, I wouldn't shed a tear if the Paulxy human footprints were vandalised either. The thing that the credulous attach significance to isn't actually there. It's a hoax. And unlike, say, the shroud of Turin, it has no historical significance either. They can grow a new tree and attach significance to that, or even better, they can transplant a tree that's older then 60 years old. I have a redwood that's well over 100 years old on my property(which, unlike the tree in question, does have a do not remove order on it). I would gladly donate some cuttings. So yeah, I think it's an overall win. Unless we have Atheists going around claiming the vandalism as our own work. That might put a crimp in things.

  37. says

    All this posting about "dickish" atheists is lots of cart before horse. The conclusion of the article states that the tree is on the land of a man arrested for a multi-million dollar fraud. The article even states that this could be a vendetta against him.This is the Daily Mail saying this. One of the most unreliable, inflammatory papers there are. So they set the article up as "anti-Xian?", and then at the end say, "no, probably an attack against a criminal."Don't start apologizing for atheists when there is no indication this has anything to do with anti-religion.

  38. says

    Jeff, you keep calling the tree a hoax. On what basis? It's grown from cuttings of what was at least locally believed to be an ancient tree. Do you find anything in the article to suggest that there was any deliberate misrepresentation of the tree as original?Or are you suggesting that the legend of the tree's planting by Joseph of Arimathea is a hoax? That would be a more challenging position to prove. Lots of places have their own local legends, without any need for outright fabrication.Even if I agree with everything else you say, that it was just a tree with no historical significance, I struggle to understand why its destruction is a "win," even if it was a hoax. Are you saying the proper response to hoaxes is vandalism, rather than skepticism? If someone destroyed the footprints you referred to would the response be, "Someone destroyed those footprints; I guess they were a hoax after all!" Or would it be, "Looks like the atheists couldn't stand to look at the evidence of creation any longer. Praise Jebus!"The proper response to hoaxes is skepticism, yes. Destruction of the subject of a hoax, or of any other irrational behavior, also destroys any opportunity for skeptical analysis. In what sense is that a "win?"

  39. says

    Cutting up a tree like that isn't nice.However, I kind of doubt that a particularly anti-Christian statement was behind it, more likely:1) Revenge against landowner2) Vandalism simply because it was there3) Done for a laugh to piss the hippies offWelcome to Merrie England.The church (in the widest possible sense) is seen as a type of authority here but cutting a tree down isn't really on the list of actions that are obvious. Vandalize monuments, etc, yes, but not this.FWIW The Daily Mail are professional trolls, and there's nothing they like more then stirring people up with self-righteous indignation. This article's a case in point: headline yelling about "anti-Christian" vandals, and at the end of their tl;dr screed mention that there could be a vendetta against the land owner.

  40. says

    Long-time reader, first time commenter.A drag queen once told me, "Every whore knows a hooker who's a bigger slut than she. Stop comparing yourself to hookers to look like a saint."The contextShe'd approached me and propositioned me in a club, to which I politely declined by referencing my dislike of hooking up. She said she'd let me buy her breakfast and that she bet I was really a "big 'ole ho". I laughed and said I was far more saintly than my friends (who she knew). It was to this she was replying with the above statement.The germanenessUsing an example of vandalism to imply that calling religious people idiots, treating them with condescension, etc. are not dickish behaviors (or at least not terribly bad ones) is logically invalid (and a cheap shot). The dick v. not dick is not and has never been about whether or not to commit crimes. It's about the efficacy of these approaches in changing minds and/or their moral rightness (or lack thereof).Making the comparison at all is an obfuscation of the intent of the discussion, is a non-sequitur, and calls into question either your grasp of the pro-dick justification or the legitimacy of the pro-dick position itself.All that said, I do like your blog, and subscribe to you on Google Reader. :) I just disagree with you on this point.

  41. says

    I can't really tell if the OP is trying to connect this act to atheists being dicks. It does kinda sound like it, but I could read it also as saying that this would be dickish behavior, while simply arguing or making fun of religion is not. So which is it? are you trying to connect this to atheists being dicks?

  42. Martin says

    David Smith: Your second guess is the correct one. I never meant to suggest I thought this was an atheist attack against Christians. Though I do think, because it's hardly likely that anyone from the area would not have known what the tree was, that even if the motive was a vendetta against the property owner, the vandals must have known (and not cared) that cutting the tree down would have amounted to an attack on a monument important to Christians, and would cause great distress to the whole community. Which is why I think the "religiously motivated harm" tag is apropos, whether it was the main motive for the crime or not.

  43. says

    Being a dick, can not be that bad, if you have a point, shouting and naming the person dosent help, but if you make fun of theyr beliefs, to show how ridiculous it is, then you can make something of the situation.Destrying some religious figure, dont gona help in anything, just will help de believer in sink down even more in theyr religion: since the "enemy" is atacking us, sure your beliefs are true.Even if a cristian monument, gives me a urge to get a flametrower and finish it, i know i need to control my self, because anything that a atheist do, can be seen as "dickness", from the believers view, even if its something inocent, as comparing god with a pink unicorn.

  44. says

    I never meant to suggest I thought this was an atheist attack against Christians.Then why did you link it to Phil's "Don't be a Dick" speech? Phil wasn't talking to the general population you know. He was talking to skeptics(and he was very wrong, but that's a whole nother matter)it's hardly likely that anyone from the area would not have known what the tree was, that even if the motive was a vendetta against the property owner, the vandals must have known (and not cared) that cutting the tree down would have amounted to an attack on a monument important to ChristianOnce again, you are spouting completely unsupported assertions in a desperate attempt to cover your ass for posting this idiotic tripe. You have no idea what the average Sommersetian knows about this tree, or whether they even know it exists at all. Show your evidence, or retract your dumb ass story.

  45. says

    Nik touches what bothered me about the OP. The OP appears to be a "greater dick" argument. (Or "greater ho" argument as Nik presented it.) It seems to be saying, "We don't have to worry about being dicks because we haven't done what these real dicks did." That's not a good argument.

  46. says

    even if the motive was a vendetta against the property owner, the vandals must have known (and not cared) that cutting the tree down would have amounted to an attack on a monument important to Christians, and would cause great distress to the whole community. Which is why I think the "religiously motivated harm" tag is apropos, whether it was the main motive for the crime or not.This would seem to me to be, at best, an incidental consequence of their actions (and you can't know that they would have known about the xian connection to begin with, although I'll grant you that it's certainly possible and perhaps probable, depending on the popularity of the tree/monument, and where the vandals reside). I don't see how knowing that there will be a secondary consequence to an action with a primary goal counts as a secondary motivation. Motive implies intent. Knowing about a possible consequence doesn't sound like intent to me, but, rather, an incidental occurence that they perhaps didn't give a flying **** about.

  47. says

    Oh, I forgot to add this:I am sure I'm ot alone with this one, but even if I am, let me forge ahead with a confession:From time to time, I get the urge to break things. To vandalise. To destroy. I don't follow up on these impulses (although I admit that I did a couple of times when I was a kid/teenager, although nothing serious) but when I have them they are pretty strong. I'm not sure why I have these inclinations. It may be related to the society in which I live, as it feels restrictive, and these feelings are a response to this? I dunno. Maybe there's some sort of biological reason? Like I am supressing my innate destructive 'manly' urges throughout my 21st century, 'cultured' 'modern' and 'civilized' lifestyle, and my inner caveman makes an attempt to break free every now and again, an attempt that manifests as an ure to tear down the social order, the 'establishment.' I am 29 (hard to fathom, I was supposed to be 21 forever…), married (also hard to fathom) and have a 2 year old (even harder to fathom). I have always been a free spirit, and I always thought I'd b single, and did not see myself as the domesticated type. Perhaps this is to blame? Maybe the fact that I went from living with my parents, which was like living in a house run by a fascist regime (seriously) to living with my then fiance, now wife (then had a kid) is a part of the problem? I never got to really let loose and enjoy myself for a while. Although you'd think that I'd get the urge to party, or see other people (both of which I do feel like doing from time to time, admittedly) not break shit. I know this might seem like a strange admission to everybody, but I guess I needed to get it off my chest. Is there ANYONE else out there who gets these urges? And again, keep in mind I DO NOT act on them.

  48. says

    "Nik touches what bothered me about the OP. The OP appears to be a "greater dick" argument. (Or "greater ho" argument as Nik presented it.) It seems to be saying, "We don't have to worry about being dicks because we haven't done what these real dicks did." That's not a good argument."I don't think that's what Martine was saying. I think he was merely pointing out that something like this truly exemplifies someone being a dick, and a firm expression of your skepticism as it is applied to religious belief is not, NOT that both are bad but this is worse so "hey, they did it too!"Not to speak for Martin, of course. Just my observation/presumption. Martin is too sharp to make such a basic error in logic, in my opinion.

  49. says

    I'm sorry.. the only thing I could think up is…"Father, I can not tell a lie; I cut the cherry tree"I admit, I am a dick. This is a bit extreme though.

  50. says

    Martin:If the vandalism was a religious hate crime, then it's not a non-story.Jeff:You have ZERO reason to suspect this. You are talking out of your ass, with your only source being a tabloid newspaper who's ideology lays slightly to the right of Adolph Hitler(who incidentally, it supported), and who has never let the truth get in the way of it's fascist spin on things."Fascist spin?"The coverage in the Daily Mail resembles that of every other UK source I have seen, for example The Telegraph:http://tinyurl.com/2eowgvkand The Guardian:http://tinyurl.com/33hjg5cThe Guardian is, of course, famously Left yet its story reads just like that of the Mail.Would Jeff be sneering about "fascist spin" had Martin's initial post linked the Guardian piece instead?No story I have seen on this – including the Daily Mail's – states that anyone is certain why the tree was vandalized. The police are investigating, looking for witnesses, etc.However, let's just take a moment to look at the known facts of the event: A tree famous for its religious significance was vandalized the day after the annual ceremony featuring it was televised.Again, "fascist spin?" One hardly needs to be Oswald Mosley to suspect the motives behind such an act. These concerns may well turn out to be unfounded, should other motives be established through police investigation, or confessed. But a tentative classification of this as a religious hate crime is entirely reasonable.As for Jeff's most recent comment to Martin:Once again, you are spouting completely unsupported assertions in a desperate attempt to cover your ass for posting this idiotic tripe. You have no idea what the average Sommersetian knows about this tree, or whether they even know it exists at all. Show your evidence, or retract your dumb ass story.The evidence is readily apparent from even a casual perusal of the news coverage.Nobody with even a basic command of the facts of this event would issue the above challenge. I don't think Martin is the one trafficking in "unsupported assertions."

  51. says

    @George from NYOne thing to look at is the headline as opposed to the actual copy.The Telegraph (rightish) and Guardian (leftish) do not have a screaming headline starting with "Were anti-Christians behind pilgrimage site attack?"The stories themselves are similar, but if you scan the headlines you get a different impression. And, as we know, these first impressions are usually what readers take away from articles.We have plenty of dickish people here in the UK. Most of them are NOT fueled by a particular "anti-Christian" sentiment. They're equal opportunity dicks…FWIW the associating of this incident with the 'Don't be a Dick' discussion isn't really valid. That discussion was in the context of arguing with religion, this incident, as a UKer, smacks more of plain old vandalism then a religious statement. And the Daily Mail are being dicks themselves but that isn't really anything that surprises me.YMMV etc.

  52. says

    I just had to comment on this:"Remember what happened when they cut off Samson's hair. Real strength is rooted in the heart… The tree will flourish."Samson lost his strength when his hair was cut and he didn't regain it until his hair grew out again.His strength was rooted in his observance of an arbitrary rule. It had nothing to do with his heart. That guy would have known that if he had bothered to read the bible.

  53. Martin says

    Jeff: I really have no idea what's up your ass, but I've made the intent of the original post abundantly clear (criticism of religion = not dickish; vandalism = dickish) and have no interest at all in defending your or anyone else's bizarre distortions of it. At this point I think you may need to find a different blog to hang out at.

  54. says

    While I have been waiting to see who is responsible for this crime so I can comment about the dickishness of their actions, I see more and more info that this type of tree is quite hardy, and the damage it suffered may even be a benefit for its health.It seems quite evident, and as Lukas just said, that this tree will flourish. How soon will it be until we hear about the "miracle" that the tree is re-growing?

  55. HailScience says

    I agree it is a hoax meant to originally bilk people out of their common sense. It turned into also a tourist trap.It was a dickish thing to do, yes.There is no reason to believe it was anti-Christian. (The article title reminds me of the South Park episode Cartman would say stuff like "Does Wendy like having her tits licked by the football team? I don't know! I'm asking questions!" to plant the false ideas.)Is it wrong to downplay the vandalism just because a bunch of nutjobs hypocritically used it as an idol? Yes, in my subjective book, I say it is wrong.And are the comments here at blogspot more entertaining than the actual article? Fuck, yes.But on the bright side, they can now sell the twigs for a profit. Look for "Holy Thorn Tree of Glastonbury Sprigs For Sale" next to the orthopedic shoe advertisements in the next Catholic Digest near you.

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