I keep coming back to the banality of evil, and the stupidity of those who practice it within a religious context.
Meet Matthew Durham, a missionary from Oklahoma, who has been accused of molesting and raping children in an orphanage in Kenya while he was working there. According to court documents he has confessed verbally, in writing, and on video to his crimes.
So he’s a pedophile.
Matthew, however, claims that he is not REALLY a pedophile because it wasn’t him that did all the raping and molesting. It was a demon. Named Luke.
Luke the demon would periodically pop up and take over Matthew’s body, using it for rapey, molesty purposes before departing, leaving Matthew traumatized and with shaken faith. Matthew prayed, and prayed and prayed about the whole “possessed by rapey demon” thing, but was powerless against the Force powers of Luke.
Matthew’s attorney, however, has a different story. According to him, Matthew never actually did these things (not even in the proximate “I-was-possessed-by-a-rapey-demon” way he claimed). Instead, Matthew was the victim of dark, voodoo magic that made him THINK (and later confess) to all these horrible activities that he imagined himself as having done, but hadn’t ACTUALLY done. Poor Matthew was the true victim here.
So before I get into my rant, a quick question: if you knew that you were periodically possessed by a demon who used your body to rape and molest children, and you knew that you were incapable of stopping this demon from possessing you and raping and molesting children, wouldn’t you – as a decent human being – try to get AS FAR AWAY FROM CHILDREN AS POSSIBLE during those times when you weren’t possessed? It just seems like common courtesy to me.
What is it about using religious belief to excuse such vile behavior? Well, here’s the secret – it works. Once you have enough people out there who really, truly, honest-to-god BELIEVE, because their religion tells them to, that there are these evil, supernatural creatures out there that can possess people and make them do all sorts of bad stuff, then suddenly Matthew’s story, far from sounding like the desperate made-up bullshit excuse of a raving madman and pedophile, suddenly and magically SEEMS REASONABLE! Well of COURSE if there are demons out there, they are going to possess people – and there are and they do because it SAYS SO right there in the BIBLE! And if these demons are possessing people, then obviously the people they are possessing have diminished culpability, right? I mean sure Matthew can be held accountable for his lack of faith, which allowed the demon in. But the DEMON is responsible for actually raping and molesting those children.
Lack of faith – not a crime.
Raping and molesting children – crime.
Matthew’s attorney tried essentially the same argument, but using voodoo instead of Christian demons.
This is stupid stuff. This is nonsense. This is pure fantasy, made-up fairy tale magic and as long as we see religious people continuing to espouse, or accept, such nonsense that brand of religion can’t be seen as having any more legitimacy than primitive animism or reading chicken entrails.
So two bears for Matthew Durham for making up such a chicken-shit fable to try to deny responsibility for his actions, and two more for his attorney for running with it.
I haven’t written here in awhile, primarily because I was getting tired of the banality of evil. It always seems to be the same – people doing crazy stuff and not getting called on it because of their religion.
This week we have two.
First up Susanne Atanus, GOP candidate for the House in Chicago, believes that autism and dementia are God’s punishment for LGBT rights. Here’s my take on that – it isn’t. It’s stupid. I mean seriously it is a dumb idea, as anyone with a lick of sense would know. And yet it plays to the crowd again and again, despite the fact that the argument makes absolutely no theological, moral, intellectual, or even emotional sense. Really, people are actually willing to buy into the idea that they worship a deity who will inflict horrible suffering and misery on one group of people because a different group of people did something wrong? Even accepting for a moment the idea that LGBT rights are something abhorrent to God and that God is really, really pissed off about the whole LGBT question – is God really such a petulant, angry, pouty, ineffective brat that He would just go around randomly afflicting people with dementia and autism… apparently even in countries that don’t HAVE the same LGBT rights that we do – instead of bringing His wrath down on the actual perpetrators? And if you really, truly, believe that your God would do such things, why would you go to church every Sunday to worship the prick? Propitiate Him maybe, keep Him as far away from you and yours as possible, but actually sing songs praising him, talk about how much you love him, try to be more like Him? It makes the followers of Charles Manson seem positively sane by comparison.
And yet still people keep saying stuff like this and a certain audience keeps eating it up. For those of you who actually believe this stuff let me just say this – seriously. You need to develop a picture of your God that is more competent than this – a god who smites the people who He means to smite, the people who have brought down His wrath upon themselves by their actions, not some dopey galoot with sloppy aim and a penchant for random mass murder and torture. You are making your guy look bad. Stop it.
Next, there was Christian conservative and founder of Mission America, Linda Harvey. This week Ms. Harvey stated in an op-ed piece that everyone is actually heterosexual, and gay people only really pretend to be gay and keep quiet about their true, heterosexual nature.
This is another one of those arguments that I am tired of – the argument that homosexuality is or is not a choice. I have my own feelings on the matter, but ultimately my reaction is so just what? Whether homosexuality is a freely made lifestyle choice or something that is hardwired into the biology of homosexuals or something that combines the two and/or involves factors we haven’t even considered yet – is irrelevant. It does not matter. It is unimportant (except maybe to biologists, behaviorists, neurologists, the producers of Masters of Sex, and possibly David Bowie). To paraphrase Thomas Jefferson, homosexual behavior neither breaks Ms. Harvey’s leg nor picks her pocket, so whether the behavior is biology or lifestyle choice doesn’t matter one tiny little bit. Ms. Harvey is free to think that homosexuality is a violation of the teachings of her religion, and she is free to voice the opinion that homosexuals are “icky”. But stuff like this is just spouting nonsense for the sake of hearing yourself talk and perhaps making it SOUND like you are saying something, and both Ms. Harvey and her followers should be able to deliver their message with appropriate justification rather than resorting to just making stuff up and going off on weird tangents like this one.
What connects these two women (other than the fact that I personally think that they should be eaten by bears)? The fact that both of them insist on pushing forward their case by resorting to flinging out justifications and arguments that are sheer nonsense in the hope that maybe somewhere, somehow, some of it will stick with their target audience. That they do this in lieu of simply telling the truth that they don’t like homosexuals and wish that homosexuals would be punished by society for practicing homosexuality. But neither of them has the courage of their convictions – neither of them believes that they can make a case based on stuff that is true like the fact that the Bible has injunctions against homosexuality. There is irony in the fact that they undercut the basis of their own beliefs, that they demonstrate that even they do not feel that those beliefs can stand up as justification for their positions, by making up untruths and irrelevancies to justify their own bigotry.
So, for each of you – two she-bears. May they tear your arguments to pieces.
You need to be eaten by bears, man.
Original image copyright Dreamstime.com
Remember Malala Yousafzai? She was the naughty, naughty girl who did things like read and go to school and stuff. Naughty things that the Taliban didn’t like. The Taliban tried to communicate this dissatisfaction with Malala’s behavior to her and instruct her on how to act differently through the expedient and efficient method of killing her dead, but obstinant person that she is, Malala refused the Taliban’s offered assistance in dying, going to hell, and burning for all eternity, and with the help of some very evil doctors, survivied. Recently, she even got to go before the UN on her 16th birthday and make a speech.
Well, Malala just got a letter from a very important person! She got mail from Adnan Rashid, a commander in the Taliban. Wow! Malala must be very important now – previously the Taliban had only sent her bullets.
I suppose I could go on about this – how this guy is crazy. About how even while saying how sorry he is, he won’t say that the Taliban did the wrong thing. But seriously. If you read the article linked above, you know what a sad and pathetic gesture this was. The whole letter struck exactly the wrong tone between faux sympathy and faux religion and faux regret. The only clear feeling that comes through in the letter is that Adnan Rashid wishes devoutly ant Malala’s brains had been spattered in all directions during the initial attack, and this whole thing had at worst been one more regrettable incident of foreigners doing inexplicably weird things to one another, instead of putting a cute, photogenic 15-year-old on the front page of Time Magazine and later in front of the UN to talk about the importance of education for woman’s equality.
Adnan Rashid – you are pathetic. I could send two she-bears upon you. But there is already something worse – far worse – to haunt your darkest dreams and incite your worst fears.
Meet Sahar Gul. Sahar Gul is 15. Sahar Gul does not look particularly healthy of happy in this photo. Perhaps this is because she was found chained in a basement, missing fingernails, starved, repeatedly beaten, and covered with burns from electrical wires and heated metal pipes. This rather unfriendly treatment was perpetrated upon Sahar Gul, starting at age 12, when her brother sold her in a forced marriage to another family, who then attempted to force her into prostitution.
The people who did this to Sahar Gul are very bad people. In a just cosm, very bad things would happen to them for doing such terrible things to a young girl. And I hope that very bad things do, in fact, happen to them.
But it is the Afghan parliament that draws my ire in this particular case, along with their judiciary.
There are strong hints that the conviction against the three individuals who were convicted of abusing Sahar Gul were overturned in haste and somewhat covertly. The fact that neither the prosecution, nor Sahar Gul, were invited to the hearing to overturn the conviction – or even informed of it – might, repeat, might suggest a certain bias on the part of the court. That the normally balky and paperwork-intensive Afghani appeals process was set aside and the convictions overturned with great rapidity and a rather minimal amount of paperwork could, by some, be construed as another.
Oh hell, let’s just lay aside any facade of faux objectivity here – the people who did this to Sahar Gul were let off the hook, without even as much as a minimal display of justice or objectivity. And that’s terrible.
But we have to dig deeper to bring this into “Two She-Bears” territory – people can be stupid or evil or biased or prejudiced without religion being involved. It is entirely possible to be stupid or evil or biased or prejudiced without any sort of religious influence whatsoever.
But in this case, the move to release Sahar Gul’s torturers is part of a larger movement in Afghanistan. A movement against woman’s rights, a movement against woman’s freedom, a movement against woman’s equality. The Afghan Parliment is currently pushing through laws, or revisions of laws, to remove the protection of women and girls under the law, to make it harder to prosecute crimes like child marriage, and to remove women from politics.
Why are they doing this?
Because such things are “unislamic”.
Seriously. We can’t protect the rights of our female citizens, prevent them from being chained in basements, having their fingernails ripped out, being tortured and starved, being represented in our government, because doing so would be “unislamic”?
Fuck that sort of Islamic faith.
If your faith tells you that you need to allow people to imprison, torture, and starve people, to make them marry against their will, to deny them a full place in society, then your religion is wrong. There is no way around it. If your deity, or your deity’s representative, tells you that you should do such things then you should FIND ANOTHER DEITY! Because the one you are worshipping now is full of it. Seriously – full of it.
It never ceases to amaze me how people can hear stuff like this – that it is OK to treat certain other people like shit, that it is OK to treat them like property, that it is a VIRTUE (for God’s sake) to torture them or rape them or deny them medical care or designate them somehow as lesser beings, and think to themselves “well, they say that some deity says I should do this, so it must be OK.” Why can’t more people look at things the other way around? “Well, this thing claims to be a deity, but it sure does demand that I do a whole lot of awful, seemingly immoral, outright bastardy things – maybe this is some kind of scam!” I mean really – telemarketers couldn’t make a living selling crap like this over the phone – how can clergy and judges and members of the government actually believe that they can sell it to their people and expect them to buy it?
Beating and starving child brides and trying to force them into prostitution isn’t OK. Ever. Ever. And if any sort of representative of any sort of organization – religious or secular – tells you otherwise they are lying. Seriously – lying, not just misinformed or confused or in error… lying.
And any sort of supposed deity who comes to you in the night or writes to you on golden tablets or descends from heaven or speaks from a flaming plant or in some other way reveals this sort of idea to you in a divinely revelatory sort of way?
Also lying. And no sort of deity at all.
Two She-Bears for you, o wretched members of the Afghan Parliament and judiciary, for carrying on this farce in the name of religion.
My computer has been tied up for a couple of days while I made the transition from Windows to Ubuntu. During that time, it seems that evildoers, sensing that they might be able to get away with something, have been up to considerable shenanigans.
But the Bears are back! Please “bear” with me now, while I get caught up on my smitings!