Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Friday, December 09, 2005

Tis the Season to Oppress Your Fellow Man

The forces of Theo-fascism are on the march again. The so called "War on Christmas" is being waged mainly by Christians who object to sharing the season with non-Christians of any type. They demand that stores restore overt references to Christmas. They even successfully boycotted Ford Motor Co. until that company agreed to pull its ads from magazines with largely Gay readership. In other news, a professor in Kansas was beaten by theocratic thugs for planning (but not actually teaching) a course on intelligent design and creationism as comparative mythology.

People wonder why I'm hostile towards religion. The answer is that religion has been hostile towards people like me for far longer than we've been a position to even complain about it. And now - even here in America - people are pushing to restore the complete tyranny of the mind through religion.

22 comments:

Anonymous said...

There is of course no excuse for beating someone up.

However, considering that this professor sent an email to a student organization referring to "fundies" and describing his proposed class as a "nice big slap in their big fat face", after which the class was cancelled, I think there is a swirl of controversy around him, and his assailants may have chosen to commit their crimes for reasons beyond _just_ his planning the course.

And, while I am striving to not in any way blame the victim, I have to say that it would not have occurred to me to stop and confront men in a car that was tailgating me along a rural road. That just sounds crazy to me. I suspect there is more to this story than we'll find out.

Summary article is here .

I was caught off guard by the bizarre "War on Christmas" thing. I mean, boycotting businesses because they don't trumpet your faith? Seriously?

I can't help but think more people would be impressed by what Christmas is all about if these people were talking to the press about the soup kitchens, the Salvation Army choirs, the youth groups visiting the nursing homes...the acts of human kindness that in fact do bring joy to the world.

Bob

P.S. Just listened to a talk about intelligent design by the Director of Mechanical Engineering here at the University of Bristol. And here I thought it was a subject limited to the US, particularly Kansas.  

// posted by Bob

Anonymous said...

I agree with Bob - being a jackass in service of a good cause is still being a jackass.

The War on Christmas thing is because, for Evangelicals and fundies, being a "Christian" is about having an identity. They want that identity to be recognized, celebrated, and proclaimed ur-American above all else. Of course it has nothing to do with charity or soup kitchens.  

// posted by LTG

Anonymous said...

I have always found the greeting "Happy Holidays" to be extremely disingenuous. Which holiday? Surely not Arbor Day. Christmas is celebrated by some 90% of Americans, both secular and religious, and December 25th is a national holiday. Nobody should be offended because they are offered good wishes for a Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, Super Eid, Jolly Diwali, or whatever. A good wish is a good wish. I sincerely wish that my atheist and Jewish friends have a good Christmas, even if, for them, this just means enjoying a day off from work they don't really care about. Does anyone who is not Christian really think that using the word "Holiday" along with all the trappings of Chrismas is more inclusive, rather than just doubletalk?

The term "Holiday Trees" is just stupid - they are put up for Christmas, not for any other holiday.

I have never understood why militant atheists and secularists would want to pick *Christmas* as their battlefield with religion. The Christmas holiday, with its vacation time, family time, and increased charitable giving, is one of the few undisputably good things brought by Christianity. It's also a sure way to lose a political fight.  

// posted by LTG

Anonymous said...

I just read this from the article:

"Christmas is not a holiday. A holiday is when you take a day off work and run around playing," said Randy Sharp, director of special projects for the American Family Assn., which led the Target campaign. Using the word "holiday" for Dec. 25 devalues "our nation's most holy day," Sharp said. "And I take offense."

Do these people realize how stupid they are? Where do they think the word 'Holiday' comes from? Holy Day = Holiday. These are the people who think Jesus spoke English. And I won't even begin to ask how a nation without a national religion can have a holy day. 

// posted by LTG

Anonymous said...

I'd like to remind our readers that Christmas isn't a Christian invention. It was appropriated by Christians from pagan winter festivals. By adopting pagan rituals, Christians were able to gain converts and (in Pollyanna world) enrich their own faith.

It is celebrated world wide because it is a nice tradition. So, MERRY CHRISTMAS one and all! I hope all the lights on your Christmas Tree glow bright.
 

// posted by USWest

Anonymous said...

Jul (Yule) is a pagan holiday involving sacrifices to Odin.

Oh, and what's with this "I don't want to blame the victim but I'm going to hereby blame the victim" attitude from Bob and LTG?

How many years are these self appointed "Christians" going to be allowed to wage Jihad on liberty in this country before someone says "Enough!"? I have to say part of the problem is this quasi toleration of fascist thuggery from people just because they claim to be in the "majority" culture.

If we don't stand up and defend the unpopular jackasses who will stand up and defend us when the "Christians" turn their brutal attentions to us? 

// posted by Raised By Republicans

Anonymous said...

Here is what I think happened to this innocent jackass professor. He planned provocative course intended to be provocative. I'm not sure that's the role I would play as a professor (I try to keep my windbaggery and my scholarship seperate) but it is his right. He cancelled the course under pressure from local Christian groups. One day he's driving down the road and he's being harrased by another car - tailgating, driving menacingly etc. He gets out to confront them because he thinks like a Midwesterner - sure, they're nuts but there are laws against them actually hurting me and who would break the law? So he gets out and yells at them. The respond (alcohol involved? Or just the spirit of the season?) by beating the man up.

To sum up: I think he was targetted. This was not likely some case of his being a random jerk engaging in a little low grade road rage that got out of hand. The thugs in question were looking for him, found him and harrassed him. Whether they intended to beat him up or just run him off the road is not particularly interesting to me.

There are relatively decent, thoughtful people who for whatever reason get something out of thinking of themselves as Christians. But they seem to be a dwindling share of the over all religious population. The pattern of closed Mega Churches is a very good sign. But where are the demonstrations in support of stores that get boycotted?  

// posted by Raised By Republicans

Anonymous said...

RBR - If your contention is that only atheists are fit to run the country or participate in democracy, that won't get very far. Lots of people of good will, whether smart or not, believe in God and practice one religion or another. Their right to do so unhindered is a pillar of American freedom. What's more, every sincere religious person will be motivated to support political and policy positions based on their faith. Religion cannot be exiled from the public square, if it is to be true to itself. Separation of church and state means, in my view, a public commitment that the government must respect the rights of religious minorities (and the small irreligious minority) and honor the right of each person to be a full member of the community, regardless of his or her religious faith.

Only those whose religious beliefs motivate them to require official INtolerance  are outside of the full protection of the state. They must be tolerated but also contained, and not permitted to alter the basic institutions of liberty in which they manifestly do not believe. This is forever a balancing act, and rarely an easy one.

 

// posted by LTG

Anonymous said...

I don't insist on an atheists only government - that would be illiberal of me. But I note with interest that for all the wailing and gnashing of teeth from the Religious right about how there is a secular "war on Christmas" or some other government inspired effort to stamp out Christianity, you don't see gangs of athiests running around beating up ministers. Has any Church been ordered to close by an athiest government? Has any private religious practice in this country been stamped out by an athiest regime? It is atheists who are the victims here of centuries of disinterested oppression and disdain.

At the same time for all the protestations from the supposedly numerous Religious left and center, we don't see a lot of direct confrontation between the Religious left and center on the one hand and the right on the other. The notable exception to this is the Episcopalian Church in the American that has confronted some of these issues. But even then it was the Right that picked the fight and drove the course of events. The left and center were always saying, "Hey! we're Christians too!" But there was very little condemnation of the bigottry in religious terms - at least not publicly.

LTG has also repeatedly voiced his profound disagreement with the Religious Right. There needs to be far more of that in this country. But when this case of the proffessor being beaten in Kansas came up his response (like Bob's) was dangerously close to "he was asking for it." The implication being that if atheists want to have a reasonable expectation of personal safety in a Christian land they should mind themselves. 

// posted by Raised By Republicans

Anonymous said...

Hey, you're sensitive from a lifetime and more of oppression. I can understand that.

But I meant to suggest that this might not be a case of the country being so anti-atheist that a professor "was beaten up by theocratic thugs for planning...a course on intelligent design and creationism as comparative mythology."

I didn't (and don't) question that the professor in question was beaten up by men that referred to the class, as he has said. But your description is disingenuous: more had happened than just his planning of the class -- it had become clear that he bore animosity toward religious fundamentalists, and the class was a platform to express that animosity.

I think it's wrong to respond to words with fists. But pretending that the iron grip of theocratic fascism is so great that scholars are being beaten in the streets for merely contemplating classes on intelligent design isn't a fair representation of this particular situation.

The anti-gay boycott of Ford, on the other hand, is exactly the kind of shocking behavior that makes me fear fundamentalism.

If we could go back to the War on Christmas thing for a second -- as people on the front lines, can you report on whether this is anything but something O'Reilly & co. fill their Fox time with? Are there actually boycotts, protests, etc. that make any impact on anyone for stores wishing us all Happy Holidays?

BTW, if Wikipedia and its sources  are on the money, the Yule sacrifice of a pig to the god Freyr is the origin of the tradition of Christmas ham. (And, at least in my own little world, of all that Cracker Barrel stuff.) 

// posted by Bob

Anonymous said...

It would be a mistake, however, to claim that Yule is the origin of Christmas. It is one of many pagan winter holidays that was coopted, including the Roman Saturnalia. While the Norse worshiped Odin, he known as Wotan by Germans, which name surives in English in the days of the week: Wednesday. The Germanic/Norse pantheons were simliar, but not identical (like Greek/Roman). The Romans believed that the only food fit for the Gods was pork (one of the reasons their occupation of Palestine was so dicey)and they also ate pork during their Saturnalia. It is one of the Wiccan/Neo-Pagan myths privileges Celtic and Norse origins above others. And a pet peeve of mine. 

// posted by LTG

Anonymous said...

Allow me to amend my comment: I meant Hickory Farms, not Cracker Barrel. Also, in fairness to Wikipedia, the article attributes the _Scandinavian_ tradition of Christmas ham to the Yule pig sacrifice.

I didn't mean to disenfranchise the Roman origins of Christmas -- when Pope Julius I declared the celebration of the birth of Christ to be on December 25, he wasn't thinking about Yule. :) 

// posted by Bob

Anonymous said...

That pork reference is interesting. The heros who went to Valhalla were fed by a magic pig that regenerated it's own meat. I think it's name was "Gris" which means "pig" (Vikings were apparently not very imaginative).

Regardless of whether Christmas started as a Roman or Norse holiday I think it is clear that it is not a Semetic one. And since Christians claim their religion has a Semetic origin that's interesting. 

// posted by Raised By Republicans

Anonymous said...

Well, RBR, the origin of Christianity is pretty plainly Greco-Semitic. But not our calendar. As you know, the Jewish and Muslim faiths have no winter holiday. They also have lunar calendars. Christmas is a result of a solar-oriented calendar - and is related not only to Roman traditions, but to mithraism, which competed with Christianity, and had, by the 3d century A.D., merged with cults of Apollo and the Sun God in Rome.

The origin of Christmas is fascinating for all kinds of reasons, not the least of which is that it (unlike Easter, which is loosely, but inaccurately, based on the Jewish calendar), was affixed to the Julian calendar.

If you really want to geek out about calendars, go to http://www.tondering.dk/claus/cal/node1.html
It's an awesome and well-researched resource. My favorite bit of information is that the "leap day" is Feb 24, not Feb 29, and that you can tell this by saint's days that move after the 24th in a leap year. Also that traditionally the leap year began on MArch 1, complicating the mess. 

// posted by LTG

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