Suicidal? Have some Jesus!

Consider it a kind of litmus test: How do you react to a highly visible outbreak of suicide among teenagers, which is almost directly linked to anti-gay bullying? Perhaps with sympathy? Understanding? The recognition that this might just be a serious problem that needs to be addressed? The realization that something should be done about the bullying that’s driving kids to suicide, and the intolerant attitudes that enable this harassment?

Or something else?

Mike Adams of Townhall.com provides an object lesson in how to fail at constructing a coherent argument, while blithely insulting those who have taken their own lives, all in the name of a fake god. It’s hard enough to untangle whatever point he was trying to make by listing eight “suicides” of Christian homophobes who were rebuked for their Bible bigotry, which he then immediately demolishes by revealing that they’re all alive and well. And yet apparently that was his point all along:

These eight cases are all true except for one thing: The Christians who were bullied by gays and gay activists are all still alive. Not a single one has committed suicide. That is because they have centered their lives around Jesus Christ, rather than their sexual identity. And no amount of bullying can change my mind about that.

Here we have a perfect example of someone who just doesn’t get it. You might expect that Christians of all people would reject the kind of false moral equivalence that views fighting for acceptance and tolerance, versus spewing the mythologically-derived hatred that inspires people to take their own lives, as just two sides of the same coin. You’d be wrong, though. To people like Mike Adams, there is no difference between fostering a climate of hate based on ancient delusions, and being told to stop doing that. It’s somehow just another form of bullying when you have to quit bullying people – if you can’t bully others anymore, that means you’re being bullied yourself. It’s all the same thing: abuse and respect, damnation and love, prejudice and equality.

Yes, we’ve heard all this before: the deceptive argument from the intolerant that tolerance must, for the sake of consistency, permit acts of intolerance, or else become the same intolerance it so deplores. What they seem to have missed is that allowing intolerance to run wild does nothing to further tolerance at all, and actually works against it. It’s hardly an act of tolerance to let intolerance proliferate, when this only serves to diminish tolerance overall. “Tolerating” intolerance is itself encouraging of intolerance.

It must have taken some serious willful ignorance to avoid realizing that his surprise revelation undermines everything preceding it. This supposed anti-Christian “bullying” (of having one’s intolerance refuted) is equated in severity to the anti-gay bullying that drove teenagers to kill themselves – except, wait a minute, none of these Christians killed themselves after all! That makes it rather difficult to pretend the exact same thing is going on here. The reason these actual suicides are significant is because they demonstrate that anti-gay bullying can be so traumatic, people have literally chosen to die because of it. Opposition to Christian intolerance, as Mike Adams freely admits, has not driven anyone to that point. Nobody is killing themselves due to being smacked down for their bigotry. Consequently, it’s hard to see why that’s supposed to be such a big deal, or really a matter of concern at all.

Adams’ conclusion – the argumentative equivalent of a Gainax ending – is almost too confusing to be insulting. Almost. What makes him so sure that identifying as gay causes one to commit suicide? What is it about living openly and honestly that’s supposed to make you kill yourself? This is nothing more than blaming the victims for no clear reason whatsoever, rather than the harassment they experienced at the hands of homophobes who he would surely rush to defend. No, it’s certainly not a problem that they were bullied for being gay, even to the point of suicide – it’s their own fault for being so gay!

And really, is Christianity meant to serve as some kind of suicide prevention tactic? Does he actually think Christians never kill themselves, based on his own intentional selection of 8 Christians who aren’t dead? That’s hardly persuasive evidence of anything but his own biases. 76% of the country is Christian – do all the suicides happen to fall in the other 24%? Likewise, do all the gays fall in that 24%, too? “Gay” and “Christian” aren’t mutually exclusive, after all. How is Christianity, especially Adams’ hateful conception of it, supposed to help gay Christians who are still being bullied for being gay?

The entire notion of Christianity as a deterrent to suicide is disgusting. For someone who’s on the verge of killing themselves and genuinely feels there’s nothing left to live for, all Christianity can offer is the negative incentive of hellfire. It means telling someone whose life has become too painful to continue living that it’s only going to get worse: not only is their current existence unbearable, but if they choose to end it, they’re just going to be tortured forever instead. How is that supposed to help anyone who finds themselves in this situation? Not only are you threatening someone who desperately wants to end their pain with yet more unending pain, you’re just telling them a lie about an imaginary afterlife to try and convince them otherwise. It means you don’t even respect them enough to be honest with them. You’re trying to wrest control away from them, urging them to incorporate your known falsehood into their belief system so that they’ll act on it. You’re taking it out of their hands entirely, rather than at least allowing them to make that decision for themselves – literally a matter of life and death – based on actual facts. There are plenty of reasons not to kill yourself, but doesn’t someone who’s reached that point still deserve the truth?

Everything Mike Adams has said here is simply twisting the knife after these kids have already killed themselves: “Haha! Should’ve been more Christian, faggots!” It’s like he doesn’t even care enough to take this seriously instead of joking about it and using their corpses as a platform to preach even more of the bigotry that helped kill them.

Religion is insane. Insane.

From USA Today comes this remarkable question: “‘Test tube babies': God’s work or human error?” Elaborating, they ask: “Do you think a baby conceived in test tube is still a child in the eyes of God?”

As always, it’s interesting to see how neatly nontheism collapses questions like these. They are not “God’s work”, nor are they a “child in the eyes of God”. Nobody is, because there is no god.

That probably wasn’t the kind of answer they were looking for, though. But there can be no useful answer here, because the question itself is wrong. It’s based on an irrelevant attribute – the location of fertilization – which they pretend has some bearing on an entirely fabricated property: whether a person is a “child in the eyes of God”. The very idea is nonsense. How is such a property defined, and how can they tell if anyone possesses this quality in the first place? What makes you so certain that you’re a “child in the eyes of God”? Such a trait has no apparent effects or physical manifestations, yet they treat it like it’s just another potential birth defect to watch out for: “Ten fingers, ten toes, child of God…”

Clearly, whether someone is a “child in the eyes of God” can’t be reliably determined, because it’s not even meaningfully defined. So why does it merit any consideration, and why should it have anything to do with what we consider a person to be? Is there any real difference between someone who was conceived in a test tube, or a Fallopian tube? It seems the only differences are the ones we’ve invented, kind of like saying someone doesn’t have a “soul” if they were conceived in North Dakota instead of South Dakota.

It’s a shame that major publications would play along with this obvious game of make-believe like it was a serious issue. This only serves to lend credibility to religion’s fiction by treating it as if it has any actual relation to reality. If you really think a baby is somehow special or metaphysically different in some ineffable way because it became a zygote while inside a woman’s body, you’re just wiping off the El Camino.

WHAT? TWENTY THOUSAND!?

I’m subscribed to the American Family Association’s mailing list, since I like to keep track of what they’re up to – I suspect many people are subscribed for the same reason. Today, they sent yet another riveting missive: “An unusual request from American Family Association”. My immediate impression was, wait a minute, everything they do is unusual by any rational standard. Like calling Home Depot the “Homo Depot”, which I’m sure is really amusing if you’re 12. Their latest cause, however, actually is pretty unusual:

With your help, YouTube has agreed to feature an AFA-produced patriotic video on their front page!

A few months ago, AFA commissioned Christian songwriter/singer Eric Horner to write a moving patriotic song to honor our national motto, “In God We Trust.”

Without any fanfare, we posted it on YouTube. The response was so overwhelming that YouTube called us to find out what was going on!

The fact is, the video is patriotic and inspiring, and it shares the message of faith. People love it!

YouTube has told us that if we can get 20,000 people to watch the video, they will feature it on their front page. That means that the tens of millions of people who visit YouTube’s website each day will be offered the opportunity to watch the video – a video with a Christian message!

Okay then. First of all, if your video currently has fewer than 20,000 views, YouTube is not going to be calling you about it. Maybe if it was 2 or 20 or 200 million views, but it’s still rather implausible that YouTube would actually call you to “find out what’s going on”. (YouTube, being YouTube, would likely have a better idea of that anyway.) It is possible that they would email you and invite you to enroll your video in the Individual Video Partnership revenue-sharing program so that they can run ads on it. But this is fairly common and part of an automated process – it isn’t that exceptional.

Getting 20,000 views on a video may seem like a lot, but in an absolute sense, it’s still not especially significant. For instance, an above-average video of mine might get 20,000 views. This has happened many times, and it’s not such an “overwhelming response” that anyone was calling me about it. Just for a sense of scale, here are a few select YouTube videos and their respective view counts:

This is what your anvilicious Christian takeover anthem, now sitting at 51,076 views, is up against. Good luck!

Now, as for their video being featured on the front page of YouTube if it gets 20,000 views, this is almost certainly false. That’s not a guarantee that it will appear on the front page, and that specific number likely has nothing to do with it. There are videos with both higher and lower view counts that are listed in the featured section of the front page, and YouTube has stated that featured videos are now selected by an algorithm, not manually chosen. As for including them in the spotlight section of the front page, it seems unlikely that YouTube would choose to place a controversial and partisan message front-and-center on the site. That’s something they tend to shy away from. And even if they were willing to do so, a threshold of only 20,000 would mean having to feature millions of other videos which meet that same requirement.

However, it’s quite possible that their video will be featured in general, which is distinctly different from being highlighted on the front page. According to a YouTube employee I met with, videos that are enrolled in the revenue-sharing program are automatically entered into the pool of videos that can be “featured”. Videos which are marked as featured aren’t necessarily featured on the front page; they can be displayed as featured at the top of the related videos on an individual video page, or alongside search results. Many of my own videos have been featured in this way despite having fewer than 20,000 views, often being placed atop the pages of people criticizing me – which they just love.

In any case, there’s no assurance their their video actually will be shown on the front page, and 20,000 views is a pretty low target to meet. It’s hardly an “overwhelming” response – for me, that’s just a decent day on YouTube. If anything, I’d expect their video to get more views from being mirrored on one of the many channels that ridicules tacky religious nonsense. Aim high, guys!