1. Pen says

    Answer: humans are so notoriously bad at distinguishing between intense dislike of an idea and intense dislike of the people who hold it that such a course of action frequently leads to abuses of human rights.

    That said, may the Flying Spaghetti Monster be reheated and served with mayonnaise!

  2. Minnow says

    What’s wrong, or what can be wrong, is when a religious practise is very closely identified with a vulnerable ethnic group (think Jews perhaps) and then the incitement can very easily become indistinguishable from incitement to racial hatred. A very quick look at the EDL shows how that can work. Blackadder would definitely have understood.

  3. aziraphale says

    Let’s take one example, those ultra-orthodox Jews who throw stones, tomatoes and feces at schoolkids who they say are dressed immodestly:

    If their religion really mandates such actions, then it deserves to be intensely disliked.

    More, I maintain that they deserve to be intensely disliked. They have chosen to act in that way.

    Surely I can say this without having to intensely dislike the great majority of Jews whose religion does not lead them to do such things? I might mildly dislike them if they fail to criticise the ultra-orthodox, but none of us lives up to our moral duties 100%.

  4. Minnow says

    You think that the best way to deal with outrages like that is to incite hatred of Judaism?

  5. aziraphale says

    Minnow, of course not. Who is inciting hatred of anything? I said I deeply dislike the particular brand of Judaism that inspires throwing feces at schoolkids. Don’t you?

  6. Minnow says

    I dislike the people who do it aziraphale, but I don’t think it tells us much about Judaism any more than sexist atheists tells us anything much about atheism. But Atkinson is urging hatred of religion (unless you think ‘intense dislike’ isn’t a euphemism).

  7. says

    Religions are authoritarian structures, generally. And yes, many of them are incredibly deserving of hate. I’m not going to bother with ‘intense dislike’, myself. I’ll take ‘disgust’, too.

    I’ll take it under advisement there are bigots out there who will go from ‘A canon and practice that teach absolute submission to an arbitrary authority and require all practitioners to disseminate the same value to their children is pretty much a recipe for horror’ to ‘All Jews are swine’. But the fact that people will so conflate does not reduce the horror of what such religions are.

    I will also happily incite hatred of ideologies embraced by atheists or any of the nonreligious that are equally hateful or destructive. The apparent impulse to prop up as effectively infallible prominent figures who say incredibly stupid things like ‘Dear Muslima’ belongs on this list, as it effectively goes much the same place. If we develop an ‘atheism’ as some kind of organized body that espouses this principle in some canon, I will consider this a convenience, as then I can with proper venom disavow that canon. As, right now, it’s more of a disorganized and maddeningly habitual practise, I do not so much have this convenience, regrettably.

    What to tell the bigots who go from ‘this idea is wrong, and will induce horrors” to ‘this human is subhuman’? Tell them they’re doing it incredibly wrong, for one. To say clearly, for another, that I despise such bigotry as vehemently as I do the authoritarian nature of those religions, for another.

    It’s true it’s complicated, hating an idea, and recognizing those who may be nominally signed up to it, even those actively promoting it are not the idea itself, separating those things elegantly. But that this is difficult is no excuse for letting a dreadful idea stand unchallenged, letting it do its miserable work in the world. So Atkinson asks a reasonable question. One to which people here have answered, but their answers don’t, to my mind, really cover the ground. They give a good reason to be careful how you incite such hatred of the, in fact, quite hateful. They don’t give a good enough reason not to suggest–hell, I might even say insist–people should learn to hate such ideas.

    I’d also say, in hopes of clarifying other questions arising, here: many religions have proudly made the worst of these ideas their very core. The god is absolute, unquestionable, and central to the creed. Over history, especially in the modern world in which tyrants are no longer so universally respected, the practise has, fortunately, become more plural, but the canons still carry the mark. So while it’s true you can’t look to the actions of a few to generalize about the religion today, it’s fair enough to generalize about the canon, and the history, and that’s important, too. And when the professed creed of the religion is still essentially so authoritarian, and people act on the earliest tyrannical practices, in apparently atavistic fashion against other person’s who now try to restrict themselves merely to mouthing the words, you can still say, look, that was what the religion was, and that version of the religion, we should still hate, indeed, beyond this, it’s those surprisingly commonly mouthed words should have no such respect. And note also that this was once the whole of the religion, the core of the religion. And it’s pretty legitimate to say, simply, you hate the religion, insofar as the religion is still centered around this allegedly divine and unquestionable authority…

    Beyond this, when people do insist they wish to enforce eight century laws or laws of 2,000 BCE, you can say they are trying to bring a particular religion–as that is so frequently, beyond merely being the history, what the canon and the chants do effectively still profess, so it is, in a very real sense, the religion–to power, and this religion is, in fact, quite deserving of hatred, and this we should oppose.

    Persons espousing atheism, in contrast, seem more frequently confused on this practise. They speak of proper caution about such authority, and then bow to it, in reality, all the same. Whatever the cause, it does make it harder to hate ‘atheism’, exactly, for the same reasons, exactly. Absent that history and canon allowing you to say honestly enough ‘this is what atheism was generally always about’, all I can really say is ‘This is what this person’s practise is about, and this, at least, should be despised’.

    I think, therefore, really, that when the religious behave this way, it does tell you something about their religion. And when atheists do, in fact, it tells you something more generally about people. Absent the religion, they can absolutely fall into the same habits. Did this come from the religions? Does this come from deeper within us? It’s an important question, but even unanswered, we can still use these behaviours as pointers. What do we do? What do we say? What needs fixing?

    The point is, even asking those questions, the behaviour of the religionist saying they wish to institute a canonical theocracy and the behaviour of an atheist in de facto terms crowning a philosopher king (yes, these are equally as appalling as all kings) doesn’t quite lead the same place. What it says to me is: discarding religion is not a sufficient condition for addressing this aspect of human social behaviour. I think it’s pretty clear, however, it’s still highly advisable, if not, in fact, entirely necessary. For see, again, the canons, and the words in them still being intoned.

    Shorter: both are problems. They are very similar problems. They are both pressing problems. They may, in fact, effectively be the same problem. None of this at all makes one or the other a non-issue, however. So it’s still perfectly legitimate to say: you can hate a religion. That there is also something else we should perhaps equally hate, well, noted, but I’m not quite sure it’s news.

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