Notes from New Sodom

... rantings, ravings and ramblings of strange fiction writer, THE.... Sodomite Hal Duncan!!

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Duncan Does Deus

Right then. Those Danish cartoons.

I've been thinking about this since Paul Cockburn, one of me GSFWC cronies, posed a question on his blog:

How can a cartoon "insult" a theological system like Islam (or indeed Christianity)? Surely you can only insult people - living people?

Lawrence Osborne, also one of me GSFWC cronies gives his response in the comments:

Agreed. But that’s the point. The cartoons are profoundly insulting to devout Muslims. Religion is not primarily an intellectual belief system (that is certainly the case for Christianity, and even more so for Islam, where the emphasis is much more upon practice than creed). Rather, for believers, it is an integral part of their self-definition; as fundamental to who they are as their sexuality. If you want to imagine the offence they are feeling, consider how you would react to a newspaper campaign portraying gays as child-abusing perverts! And how would you feel if your protests against the campaign were then vilified as an attack on freedom of speech?

He's a good mate, Lawrence, and I think he's right, practically speaking -- or at least part right -- about how and why an attack on religion can and will be taken as an "insult" by its followers.

Unfortunately, I just don't give a fuck. Sitting here at the End of the Enlightenment, lighting my cigarette from the burning wreck of Reason, I'm looking around and thinking I've pretty much had my fill of the faithful. So, with apologies to Lawrence for co-opting his comment as my springboard, and fair warning for any deus-diddlers reading this, I'm getting my rant on, motherfuckers.

Let's start at the end: would you feel if your protests against the campaign were then vilified as an attack on freedom of speech?

Were I a protestor functioning on the level of blind unreason and moralistic wrath, I imagine I would feel outraged were my righteous ire vilified as an attack on freedom of speech. The more blind that unreason, the more moralistic that wrath, why, the deeper my outrage would be.

Yeah? And? So? Fuck?

The real question here is this: Were my protests actually an attack on free speech? Because if so then it doesn't matter a goddamn fuck what I feel; what matters is that I believe utterly in my right to shut down that which offends me, to silence all blasphemers, suppress all opposition. So: were these protests an attack on freedom of speech? Um, yes. It's one thing to exert pressure on a company to apologise for offence caused. A protest aimed at the papers alone would not have been an attack on free speech. But these protests against the Danish cartoons also targetted embassies, governments, threatened boycotts. The pressure was not just being put on the papers to apologise and withdraw the cartoons; it was being put on the governments; these protests were, in no uncertain terms, demanding that the governments step in and force the newspapers to back down.

So it's a fucking no-brainer. At the point where you stop demanding that cartoonists and newspapers hold their slanderous tongues, and start demanding that governments make them, that's when it becomes an attack on freedom of speech. But you know what? These protests were an attack not just on freedom of speech but on freedom in general.

Check out this guy.

Freedom go to hell.

So the deus-diddlers -- you know... people who diddle their deus, who stroke His Almighty Ego with their hymns and prayers, who verbally fondle His Glorious Godhead, making Him proud and happy with just a few flicks of fingers or tongue... what's the word again? Flatterers? Sycophants? Toadies? Ah, that's right: worshippers. Anyway, so the deus-diddlers were vilified for their attack on free speech.

Boo fucking hoo.

But yeah, I can imagine how they would feel about not being treated with the proper respect due to them, them being all pious and faithful and all, good little deus-diddlers just as Old Nobodaddy likes them. I can imagine how they would feel, after their attack on free speech, about being vilified for their attack on free speech. How could we possibly insult their tender little feelings (with the fucking truth), again?

How would I feel if I were them? I'd feel exactly the same hypocritical, twisted, self-deluding, self-rightous and self-fucking-serving anger, because I'd be a fuckwit like them.

Man, I bet the twat holding that placard is so good at the deus-diddler's double-think he doesn't even consider himself to be attacking freedom. He probably doesn't even think he's attacking freedom of speech. I'm sure he doesn't have a clue why I or others would vilify him. I'll lay even money he doesn't get the difference between a loose collection of cartoonists united by shared sympathies and maybe the odd pint together, and an orchestrated campaign (like, say, the Christian internet campaign against Jerry Springer: The Opera, or Brian Souter's campaign against the repeal of Section 28, or any of the countless deus-diddler attempts to impose their twisted mind-sets on the rest of us). And I'll bet that the reason he doesn't fucking understand any of this is because he has eradicated his own reason and empathy in the mental pogrom of religion.

I was going to say "fundamentalism" rather than "religion" there. You know, just to be nice, to offer a wee get-out clause for any non-fundy deus-diddlers still reading, so they wouldn't get all offended like, by me tarring them with the same brush . I normally would. But not today. Today I feel like tarring all deus-diddlers with same brush. Like tarring them, covering them in feathers plucked from a dead archangel's wings, and running them through the streets, the burning streets, of New Jerusalem. See I got a question for ya, and I got an answer for ya, and if the answer that I got is right, well then, the problem isn't "a few extremists". It isn't a "radical minority". That's the deus-diddlers fucking cop-out every fucking time, isn't it? It's just a few nut-jobs. Every club, clique or cult has a few nut-jobs. Blah blah fucking blah. So here's my question then: If all of the People of the Book idealise three attributes in their deity, wisdom, justice and mercy, why the fuck is it that they all consistently and repeatedly pervert these into an irrational vengeful ruthlessness?

And, with a bingo bongo and hey presto, here's the answer: it's because they're working on the "law and order" orientation in the "Conventional" stage of moral development as outlined by Kohlberg.

Go look it up. I'll wait.

Anyway, I don't want to get sidetracked, so let's just reiterate and move on: they are attacking freedom of speech; the vilification is entirely founded; in fact, I'd argue, it is indicative of the vicious-circle autocratic logic of religion that the hurt feelings of the believer are supposed to be taken into consideration, while those of an unbeliever, defending their ground against the protests of the believer, exercising the exact same right to protest (but without placards, burning flags, anti-Semitic slogans or death threats), are apparently not entitled to that same consideration. You stand there listening to a deus-diddler's rabid frothings and, OK, you think they're nuts for being a deus-diddler anyway, but everyone's a bit eccentric, each to their own, so as long as they're not doing any harm, until eventually they're calling for a second Holocaust and you then have the temerity, the audacity, the sheer affrontery, to call them on their unreason. And you're the bad guy cause, well, that's just the icing on the cake in terms of insults. I mean, how would you feel if you were an ignorant, arrogant asswipe and someone actually told you that to your face?

How would I feel? Fuck, I can tell you how I feel right now. I'm sick and tired of pussy-footing around the delicate sensibilities of those who follow a breed of philosophy I consider abhorrent. I'm sick and tired of the ethically retarded and their bootstrapped, bile-poisoned belief systems. I'm sick and tired of being on the fucking defensive, of playing the politesse game, of nodding and smiling at these sermonising pseudo-ethical cunts with their proscriptions and prescriptions of what's right and wrong, good and evil, virtue and sin. I'm sick and tired of pretending that the ignorant imbeciles stuck in that "law and order orientation" are even remotely ethical or even empathic beings. I'm sick and tired of their sociopathy being dignified with the term "faith". would you feel if your protests against the campaign were then vilified as an attack on freedom of speech?

I'd feel outrage, disgust, hate. And that, in a nutshell, is the fucking root of this particularly pernicious breed of religion. That's where blasphemy comes from, where heresy comes from, where every fucking outcry against every percieved insult to the deity or the believers or the faith in general comes from. Every refusal to accept that someone else might believe otherwise. Every attempt to proselytise or to persecute. All of this is born from the maelstrom of unreasoned affect. Fuck, just look at faith. How many deus-diddlers even get the fucking difference between the sensation of conviction and the actuality of truth?

I'm so sure of it so it must be true. This makes me disgusted so it must be sin. This makes me feel pride so it must be a virtue. Fear, fury, desire, shame -- the whole philosophy of the religious moralist is simply an abstraction, systematisation and indoctrination of emotional reactions as so-called moral principles. Yu have a conviction that a set of beliefs are The Truth. You have a conviction that this set of beliefs is Good. You have a conviction that following that set of beliefs makes you good. You have a conviction that defending them against attack, supporting their institutionalisation, propagating them by converting others, suppressing any challenges to them... that all of these things make you Good. What rationale do you have for believing that this is true? Only your conviction, a conviction which handily enough, in this belief system, is in its own right, considered Good.

This is Kohleberg's "law and order orientation" and it's only a pitiful baby-step beyond the internalisation of reward and punishment that happens while we're infants. An adult should and could grow out of this in adolescence. But these self-replicating, self-sustaining, by-the-bootstraps belief systems have found the perfect trick, almost beautiful in its simplicity: turn people into the prison guards of their own minds. They turn our own emotions into validations of the lie. They raise the mad, blind, mutilated ego, that construct of pride and shame symbolically embodied as the Authority, the Godfather, YHVH, Allah or Jehovah, raise Him up as demiurge over our souls, and bind us in the Black Iron Prison of His moral absolutism. No wonder the particularly nutty deus-diddlers develop neuroses that outlaw images of their maniac overlord; if they looked at the true horror of that twisted face, if they could see it when they look in the mirror, they'd probably start screaming and just never stop.

If these protestors feel outraged at being vilified for opposing free speech, it's for exactly the same reason they feel outraged at the "insult" of the cartoons. It's because those feelings of outrage are the bars of their cage, the very stuff and substance of their philosophy. It's because the twin guns of anger and pride -- fused in the form of self-righteous ire -- are the key weapons of the automated defence systems of this type of ideology. God forbid any of us vile humanist types try to breach those defences with our unholy swords of satire and slander. God forbid any of us pick up a torch and try to get to the heart of their labyrinthine belief-systems. God forbid any of us prod and push and poke at the graven idol in their inner sanctum, this faceless, nameless Deus every bit as anthropomorphised as Dionysus or Apollo, every bit as blasphemously personalised, draped in the gilding of the human characteristics of wisdom, justice and mercy. God forbid we do anything, say anything, write anything, paint anything, anything that might draw attention to the circularities and self-contradictions which ensnare the believer.

God forbid.

Sorry, that wasn't booming and almighty enough.


Freedom of speech. This is about freedom of fucking thought.

But, OK, let's bring this back to specifics. There's no question in my mind that a cartoon is a form of artistic expression which, like any such work -- fiction or non-fiction, written, drawn or dramatised -- falls into the protected category of "free speech" for our liberal, libertarian and libertine society. But there are limits to freedom of speech -- of course there are -- I'm leaving blasphemy aside for now, as a separate offence. I'll return to it. But we do need to look at the content of these cartoons, to ask ourselves if these cartoons constitute artistic liberty taken too far, into unacceptable obscenity, racist slur, incitement to violence, into transgressions as understood in the legal framework we're working with. Or even, in a wider sense, in a socio-cultural ethical framework which it's entirely reasonable to expect us all to submit to, even if it's not actually legislated.

OK. So the cartoons range in content from tame to incendiary. There's this one, which does nothing more than portray Mohammed as a rural man of humble origins. We might read a negative comment into the fact that he's leading a donkey, a slur on those who follow him as "donkeys", "asses"… i.e. "fools". We might equally well read a positive comment into his portrayal. He walks with a staff, the conventional attribute of a wise man, a teacher. He's portrayed fairly sympathetically here, it seems to me, as a simple man, humble in his attire and possessions; he's rendered as the classic "honest peasant". This can only be considered an insult in so far as any image of Mohammed is blasphemous which, as I've said, I'll treat separately.

This image, indeed, showing a cartoonist drawing an image of Mohammed is no more than a comment on that idea, a question. Is an image of an image of Mohammed also blasphemous? This one plays the same trick, poking fun at the "PR stunt" accusation that's quite common, funny enough, when some reactionary is faced with a frontal challenge. The believer can't even credit the challenger with sincerity. Oh no, it couldn't be that the muckstirrer actually has an idea they want to communicate, a question they want to pose, a topic they want to explore. Oh no, it must be controversy for the sake of it, a craven desire for cheap publicity. God forbid we
credit other people with the ability to believe something incompatible with our convictions, our faith, our Revealed Truth.
How could that be?!?! How could anybody possibly not realise that what appears to be a blend of dodgy philosophy, moral dogma and outright schizoid delusion is actually the Revealed Word of God?!?! I mean I have this faith, right, this conviction.
So it must be true! And don't tell me it isn't or I'll spit the fucking dummy, you decadent apostate Sodomite, you! I'll scweam and scweam until I'm sick!!!

For fuck's sake, this cartoon doesn't even show the prophet; it shows a different Mohammed, someone who (look, can you see what they've done there?) simply shares the name "Mohammed". It's a reductio ad absurdum, in that respect. It doesn't even have much of a punchline; all it does is take the accusation that the cartoonists are merely being provocative and put it in ironic quotes to ridicule it. So is it an insult, a blasphemy, even to critique the charge of blasphemy? Apparently so. Clearly from the reaction around the world, it is, which I think rather backs up my claim that this ideology sustains itself by circularity: any challenge to the idea of what is holy is, in and of itself, unholy; to challenge blasphemy is blasphemy.

That's some catch, that Catch-22.

But as I say, we'll come back to the whole blasphemy issue.

Moving swiftly on, we have this image, where Mohammed is fused with the crescent and star of the standard Islamic flag. What is it trying to say to us? That Islam has aspirations to governmental power, perhaps, that notions of Church & State are inextricably intertwined. We might also see the position of the star making it a sort of "mote in one's eye", a suggestion that the symbol of glory may partially blind those caught up in their religious awe. This is a more pointed and negative comment, but it's not exactly a radical assertion.

Now we get onto the ones that properly caricature the jihadist faction within Islam. There's this one, largely commenting on the blasphemy issue itself but portraying the reaction as "swords out, death to the infidel". It doesn't strike me as terribly outrageous given the "death to the infidel" slogans on the placards at the protests. Or what was it again? Ah, yes. Prepare for the REAL Holocuast (link courtesy of Alan De Niro). You know what? As a member of one of the minorities who were part of that Holocasut I take that as a death threat, and I take it seriously, far more seriously than, say, a newspaper campaign portraying gays as child-abusing perverts. So the charge in the cartoon seems entirely fair to me. If you wanted to caricature the zealots and crusaders of Judaism and Christianity, why, that would be bully with me too.

OK. On we go. We have this cartoon, showing a sword-wielding maniac flanked by women wearing the birka, and this one, where Mohammed's turban has a lit fuse. The message of these is pretty clear -- Islam characterised by violence and aggression, a short-fused time-bomb that could go off any second. There's a couple of others I haven't linked to (these cartoons can all be found together at this page ), but these last two are probably the most extreme of the cartoons, so they're the deciders I'd say. Do we consider them obscene, racist, incitement to violence?

Confrontational? Yes. Obscene? No. Caricatures of an ideology? Yes. Caricatures of a race? No. Incendiary? Yes. Incitement? No.

Basically, I find it hard to see these as anything harsher than... well... the satire they are. Certainly not scabrous enough to justify an over-ride of the free speech principle. But they are scabrous, right enough. So do I at least accept that these cartoons are insulting? Can I at least undertand and accept the impassioned response of the believer to the challenge presented by these cartoons. That's where this kicked off, after all, from Paul's question, which I've blathered on so long that I probably need to recapitulate:

How can a cartoon "insult" a theological system like Islam (or indeed Christianity)? Surely you can only insult people - living people?

So can I at least sympathise with those who feel that by insulting a theological system these cartoons are insulting them personally. As Lawrence says:

… consider how you would react to a newspaper campaign portraying gays as child-abusing perverts!

Ah, I say. You mean the 1980's?

I remember growing up with that bullshit, and if it happened again I'd attack it with all my passion but, more importantly, with all my reason. I would critique it, satirise it, present counter-arguments and parodies. I would attempt to show the inaccuracy of the depiction and the venality of the underlying motives. I would not threaten to rape the infant sons of the newspaper editor if they didn't offer me an abject apology. That would, one rather suspects, be shooting oneself in the foot.

The reaction to this "campaign" (which consists of a dozen cartoons and is hardly, I think, the sort of extensive, concerted attack that deserves the name "campaign") has validated the very point of the cartoons. To wit: The charge against fundamentalist Islam is that in its extremism it renders the believer irrational -- aggressive, violent and short-tempered, ready to fly off the handle at the slightest provocation. The charge is that there are elements within Islam for whom violence is a first resort rather than a last resort. This protester, with his "Kill those who insult Islam" placard rather fucking proves the point, I think.

The point is, accuracy is one rather obvious difference between these cartoons and the gay = paedophile hysteria of the 80s. I'm sure that in both cases -- as the tired old excuse goes -- we can cherry-pick examples which might seem to justify such slurs, but which -- as the apologist argues -- are really exceptional. There are crazies like the "Kill the infidel" maniac above. And there are, sad to say, plenty of dodgy NAMBLA types out there just as blind to the twisted logic of their own self-justifications (c.f. Jonathan King's classic paedophile "they wanted it" defence). But in the case of NAMBLA, Gay Pride marches are not fucking pulpits for them; they're not even safe venues. Gay Rights groups distance themselves from such behaviour. They condemn it, sideline it, reject any association. By contrast these anti-cartoon protests were a popular backlash, and while the general feeling amongst a less rabid majority of deus-diddlers might be that, well, a few individuals, a minority, a rogue element, just might have taken it a bit far (with those Holocaust threats, for example) I see more justification than condemnation, support qualified only by the chickenshit halfway caveat that "killing is nasty and we shouldn't be encouraging it even if we are really really angry... although we are really really angry and it's their fault, so it's quite understandable". On the whole, the basic philosophical principles of blind faith in scriptures and total submission to their moral absolutes is considered entirely acceptable to even those nice moderate deus-diddlers.

That's what the whole Word of God thing is about, innit?

But wait a minute. Am I really saying that its acceptable to tar all Muslims with the same brush when the point of the gay example above is that,of course, I would not do this for all gays? I mean, I'm a good liberal boy, right? Pro-tolerance. Anti-pejudice. Surely I don't subscribe to those sort of sweeping generalisations.

But there's a fundamental difference between these two group, one united by sexuality the other united by faith. You can't make terribly accurate generalisations about the behaviour of people based on their sexuality; sexuality tells you nothing about their ideology, the rulebook by which they live their lives. But I reckon you can make fairly accurate generalisations about the behaviour of Muslims (or Christians, or Jews, for that matter) based on their belief systems. I mean, isn't that what their belief systems are all about? Systematising people's behaviour, standardising they way they live their lives. So in the same way that you can look at the belief system of Klansmen and make a an accusation of racism (which could, of course, be taken as a gross personal insult by all those modern-day, cleaned-up, honest-we-don't-hate-the-negro-no-more members of the 21st Century KKK), I think it's entirely fair to point the finger at Islam, Christianity, Judaism or whatever. And fuck the believers who find that offensive. If I see a Nazi I'm not going to worry about offending other Right-Wing wingnuts by calling this fucker out for being a fucking Nazi. I don't give a fuck if I offend some BNP or UKIP cretin, some "moderate fascist" who doesn't go for the whole Final Solution approach, you know, who doesn't support genocide per se, just... repatriation... closing the borders to asylum seekers... that sorta thing. If you're a fucking fascist, you're a fucking fascist, and there's nothing to bloody well complain about it if I call you a fucking fascist to your face. So not all fucking fascists are extreme? So not all fascists believe in the complete extermination of the Jews? I mean, the Falangists were far more concerned about the commies...

I don't give a fuck. If you identify as a fascist I make no apologies for any slight you might feel if I critique fascism a tad too harshly for your liking. And the same is true for these religions. If you identify as a Muslim, a Christian or a Jew, and your nose gets put out of joint because, well, I happen to think your precious religion is deeply and profoundly wrong, way more wrong than right, if you don't like the fact that I'm pointing at this, that or the other feature of it and shouting "J'accuse"... well… you can argue with me all you want, but don't expect me to simply shut up and suffer in silence the fascist fuckwittery of your crazy contingent of zealots, jihadists and crusaders, just because "we're not all like that".

You have people in your ranks who think I should be dead.

Let me repeat that. You have people in your ranks who think I should be dead

You have people in your mosques, your synagogues, your churches who think I should be dead.

Now if you don't have the fucking guts to face them, to take back your faith from these fruitcakes, to treat the poison of fundamentalism and the rot of right-wing conservatism which fosters it, if you don't have the balls to accept that, actually yes, there are psychological forces, threads of thought, rhetorical manipulators and simple bald-faced bigots who can and do appropriate these religions, their texts, their temples and their institutions, who use them to breed hate, who make these religions not just the bedfellow of prejudice but the unholy father and bitch mother of it… if you "moderates" will not deal with those people in your ranks who think I should be dead then get out of my fucking way.

Step aside. Stand down. By all means defend the faith but don't try and defend that monstrous moralistic unreason you're allied to. If you think I'm being harsh, unfair, strident, well, you may be right, but I repeat this point. You have people in your ranks who think I should be dead.

I may have some harsh words to say about that.

So… shit! Am I really comparing Islam to fascism here? Surely not. Surely not liberal-pacifist-socialist-anarchist me. Fuck that; I'm comparing all three of these religions to fascism. Oh, Islam has its history as the champion of science and philosophy throughout Europe's Dark Ages. For sure. And Christianity has that "God is Love" idealism running right back to its roots. Damn straight. And Judaism has its tradition of argument, of debate. Why, yes. But all three are, I contend, deeply twisted as belief systems by a blind unreason and moralistic wrath I despise. These religions are seriously fucked, man. If you wanna sign up with the blackshirts, wear the cross, the crescent, the Star of David, or any other ancient mystic symbol, baby, that's your perogative but don't ask me to bite the pillow and think of Germany as your Ernst Roehms try to shaft me

If you want to imagine the offence they are feeling...

Oh I can imagine it alright. I just don't give a fuck. Why not? I mean, can I not, in any way shape or form, at least understand and accept that religious beliefs are so profound, so deep, so integral to a person's being, that this is more than just a matter of attacking an ideology, that it *is* basically an attack on the people who uphold that ideology? As Lawrence says:

Religion is not primarily an intellectual belief system (that is certainly the case for Christianity, and even more so for Islam, where the emphasis is much more upon practice than creed). Rather, for believers, it is an integral part of their self-definition.

I don't disagree. I just happen to think that makes religion all the more deserving of derision.

Fascism was not primarily an intellectual belief system. Rather, for believers, it was an integral part of their self-definition -- hence the emphasis on race and cultural heritage and upon practice rather than creed, practice being in the shape of uniforms and flags, rallies and marches, other group activities. Should this colour my attitude towards the fascist, make it more rosy? Should this curtail the lashing of my tongue? Should I treat believers with more sympathy, treat their belief system with more tenderness, simply because they believe it to hold profound truths about their nature and their purpose, because it is an integral part of their self-definition?

Should I fuck.

And this, finally, is where we come to blasphemy and heresy and apostasy and all of those criminalisations of free thought. This, finally, is where we come to the idea that improper use, misuse and abuse of names, images and ideas can and should be forbidden, that the deus-diddlers have the right to tell the rest of us what we can or can't say, can or can't write, can or can't paint, because this is sacred and that is profane and how dare I transgress against the divine decrees of the His Divine Psychosis, Godfather. in Heaven? How dare I blaspheme against their Lord Jesus Mohammed Allah Jehovah Christ Almighty.

Fucking hypocrites.

The Bible blasphemes against Tammuz. It blasphemes against Baal ze Baal, twisting His name to make Him Lord of the Fllies instead of Lord of Lords. It blasphemes against Astarte, twisting Her name to Ashtaroth as a pun on the Hebrew word for "whore". It blasphemes against every pagan deity it slanders as a "false god". It has no respect -- zero, zilch, nada, not a fucking iota of respect -- for the practices of the natives of Canaan. It rails against their household gods, their teraphim. It insults their ancestry, portraying Canaan as the son of the wicked, cursed Ham. It is racist, xenophobic, hate-mongering venom, insulting every culture around, from Sodom in Genesis through to Sidon in Isaiah. You know what? These People of the Book… these fundamentalist fuckwits who've taken up the mantle of hate from those spite-spewing prophets of yore, who are really just carrying on the tradition that's been in monotheism from Year Dotof wanting desparately to purge by fire all deviants and decadents… they can fucking well KISS MY ASS.

Hi, Kettle. I'm Pot. You look kinda black.

Fuck them and the horse they rode in on. They have no fucking moral high ground here. They have no fucking sympathy from me. They have no fucking right to it.

Here's what I think of religion, of these monotheist, monomaniac, megalomaniac religions in particular in the words of the man himself, poor old Yeshuah who got himself nailed to a cross trying to drill peace and love into the deus-diddling zealots only to have Paul wash away his message in the purifying "blood of the Lamb" (trust a fucking Roman to think bathing in blood makes you holy)... and, I tell you, if I could roar them into the face of every fucking zealot, crusader and jihadist on this fucking planet, if I could scream them with the fucking wrath, the fucking honest fucking wrath that I think, for once, for a change, might just have a little justification to it since, you know, they want me dead... if I could drive home to these merchants of hate, and their appeasers and apologists, just how much they offend my spiritual beliefs, my anarchist metaphysics, my atheist mysticism, my conviction that the universe is without meaning but that this is a fucking beautiful, terrible, glorious truth, that such wonders of chance as nature, life, sentience, sapience, art are indeed sacred, more sacred by far than any doggerel or dogma... if I could smash their synagogues and mosques and churches with these words, I fucking would. Here's what I say:

My temple should be a house of prayer. But you have turned it into a den of thieves.

These religions are themselves blasphemies. They are abominations in the eyes of empathy. They take the names of the true holy trinity -- Wisdom, Justice and Mercy -- in vain. They bow down before the false idols of faith and dogma. They barter and trade in sin and salvation. They are filled with those who have quite simply sold their service -- body and soul, life and death, prayers and hymns -- to buy a seat in eternity.

The stench of their corruption makes me weep.

So what's that old Hebrew word which means enemy? Ah, yes. Shaitan. Yup, that pretty much sums up my relationship with the Big Three.

Peace out.


Blogger Mike Gallagher said...

You'll like this (gacked from Neil Gaiman's blog) . . .

7:09 pm  
Blogger paul f cockburn said...

Good grief... I'm gonna need some time to read this one!

9:46 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If all of the People of the Book idealise three attributes in their deity, wisdom, justice and mercy, why the fuck is it that they all consistently and repeatedly pervert these into an irrational vengeful ruthlessness?

That's us, man. Consistently. I for one like to kick kittens before breakfast each day. On account of my arrested moral development, mindless adherence to dogma, and inability to distinguish my emotions from reality. Which is, you know, identical with the whole Judaism thing.

I didn't use to think so, but then, you know, there was the whole Baruch Goldstein incident, and so I was like "well HECK -- I guess I must be an immoral loonie too! 'Cause look, we both wear *the same little hats*!!"

Thank heaven you Tammuz-worshippin' fellas aren't given to allowing your emotions to dilute your powers of careful and responsible reasoning. Nice to know we can count on someone.



12:00 am  
Blogger Christopher Barzak said...

I think, Ben, that it's hard to be reasonable sometimes. I know I'm not always reasonable. I don't think anyone can be reasonable 24 hours a day 7 days a week 365 days a year. And I think that right now, religions are at war in a way that they haven't been for a while, and whether there are individuals who are exceptions to the generalized behaviors of many hardcore believers, usually those people who are exceptions still don't say anything, don't speak out against the other factions of the various violent and oppressive by nature religions. Not attempting to define themselves in opposition to those who have sculpted their belief system into a weapon of war is abdicating a huge responsibility. I think it would be easier to be more reasonable about this topic at the moment if there were more of the faithful within these religions speaking out against those who have turned them in the direction of threats, violence, war, and oppression. Like you said, sarcastically, "That's us, man. Consistently." Well, yes, it's not consistent. Like I said, there are those who are exceptions. But these days, they seem mighty silent except perhaps within their individual halls of worship. (There are exceptions to this too, but in general...)

1:32 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, that's it--I'm going to have to start my satire novel of the Middle East/Islam/terrorism. To think, I wouldn't have really considered this even in the future if not for the graceful inspiration of the demonstrators! Thanks, guys!

5:23 am  

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