And it remains to be seen whether his death will actually accomplish anything as far as reducing the threat of terrorism in the world. Movements are taken over by new leaders all the time. The death of Jesus didn't exactly wipe out Christianity. Same with Joseph Smith and Mormonism. Just sayin'.
This post on NPR's Being blog sums up my feelings pretty well, minus the religious specificity.
I saw a blog post titled "F*ck Respect" on Facebook this morning. A warning about language, not because I think the language the writer used is morally "wrong" any more than I think a product made from "cheez" is wrong; I just think it's cheap and gross. Basically, it's a rant saying, "Theists are stupid, so we don't have to respect them." For example:
Every so often some tree hugging l*beral stands on a soapbox and states how we should treat all people with respect; even those canine b*ll-licking theists... Pin headed pr*cks without one redeeming feature... What mind bending reason is there to not go to your local ch*rch on sunday and p*ss on its walls... Just because they haven't stoned anyone lately we should give the intellectually impaired a free ride? B*llshit, smack the b*tches whenever you get a chance, the only way to keep their smarmy *sses in line.I commented, "I guess I'm a tree-hugging liberal." Responses: "Me too, but that doesn't mean I'm going to let religion invade the government." "Stupid beliefs are still stupid, even if the people who hold them are nice, and I'm not going to stop speaking out against them."
I don't have any problem with either of those comments (except for not being fond of the word "stupid"), except that wasn't what this post that they liked so much was about at all. I rarely take part in Facebook debates and am a little embarrassed that I'm actually blogging about it too, but this really got under my skin. This is how I responded:
Speaking out against stupid beliefs is still different from attacking people who hold them. An actual issue or point of disagreement, you can talk about. You just want to turn people who believe differently from you into caricatures (like this post does), you're accomplishing nothing. Outright attacks on religion are counterproductive. It makes zealots feel justified and gives them a cause to rally around. This post says nothing about keeping religion out of government or any actual threat. It's nothing but vulgar dehumanization, painting with a very wide brush to turn ALL theists into Other. It's useless, despicable, and ethically WRONG and I don't mind saying so. But your free speech does protect your right to get your kicks that way should you so choose.If Facebook let you edit comments, I would add that this sort of attack also alienates moderates who would be your allies on issues like funding Planned Parenthood and keeping creationists out of science classrooms.
I have several atheist friends on Facebook. Some are the combative type, so I see these sorts of rants all the time. I think the reason it bothered me more than usual today was because it seems to me that the same sort of stereotyping that causes us to see others as Others--less than, not like us, inferior, inhuman--is the same sort of mentality that can desensitize us to the point that a person's death is a reason for celebration.
But I had another Facebook friend who came through with this status:
I'm going to celebrate by spreading some love and doing something nice for someone who is different from me today. Bin Laden would have hated that.Indeed!