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Antitheistic. Long. Perplexing. Offensive. Whatever.

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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

To Russia, With Scorn – A Case of Dogma Encroaching on Human Rights; Yes, The Pussy Riot Controversy

I most certainly missed the memo on the issue, when special privileges were being awarded to the religious orthodoxy in Russia at the peril of the essential human rights of everyone else who has no ethical or moral obligation to respect or honour the tenants of any esoteric religious hogwash, should they chose to do so; it is their human right (The United Nations, 1948). If the late and great, Christopher Hitchens, were still around, he would be mopping the floor with every apologist who would dare embrace the ignominious task of dignifying the Russian legal system's treatment of the band, Pussy Riot, for mere political protest where the increasingly state-dominant religion was also – deservingly so – slandered. I had initially chosen to remain quiet on the subject, but after having read this excellent post on the My Secret Atheist+ blog (My Secret Atheist+ Blog, 2012), I am motivated to have my own say on the subject. By the dead God's carcass, I am going to devote a paragraph, or several, to this issue where all sense of common decency has been sacrificed in a single-handed desolation of the human rights convention!

The story's fast becoming a chapter of old news in light of just how much else seems to go wrong real fast in the world of the fast and furiously powerful. However, I was eager to make some comments when it went viral over the atheist page on Facebook. Unfortunately, by this point, much of the discussion was already hijacked by self-entitled theocratic pundits insisting that not only do they have a right to practice their personal delusion of choice, but they also have a right to force the rest of us to respect their theological sentiments. These individuals truly lack the kind of common sense that is required to avoid conflating the notion of respecting people's right to any given religion with forcing other people to respect the actual religion in question.

Russian punk band, Pussy Riot, finds itself at the heart of all this drama for offending the sensibilities of Russian church dictum, and attacking this religious institution's present cosy relationship with the ruling political mob. I refer to them as a mob, because in this day and age, their legal system had the gall to sentence members of this band to a two-year incarceration in the name of appeasing this elite club of theocratic-fascists who have the special right to not only be offended, but to have others penalised for bringing them mere offence (BBC, 2012). As it stands, human rights have taken a back seat – and have even been sacrificed – to the goals of religious appeasement.

“Fuck your human rights, bitches! You just messed with the state-dictate and their soon-to-be religious status quo of support! The hounds of hell shall be unleashed upon you heathens!” - An Appropriate Summary

I would consider it a noble effort that before we talk about human rights, we should really quiz some of these supposed 'heads of states' on just how well they comprehend the convention on human rights. It seems that they like to take the freedom of religion aspect so far and wide that it practically decimates every other article in the process (The United Nations, 1948); they're essentially transforming the right to religion into an imposition of religion upon the rest of us, leaving us with no choice but forced servility under threat of legal ramifications. We have essentially let a bunch of extremists hijack all progress, and then like efficient  extremists, completely decimate what human rights we have struggled to achieve over the last century.

Individuals have a right to practice and observe their personal beliefs, by themselves, and with others who agree to share in such practice. They are not free to impose their customs and theological courtesies upon the rest of us who are not obliged to care for, or respect, the actual religion; our duties as members of a free and progressive society end at allowing them their right to practice what they wish to practice. We only respect the right, not the actual belief! Now in return for this neutral, non-imposing courtesy, the rest of us non-believing heathens are free to practice what we practice, and if any of that happens to be diametrically offensive to someone else's beliefs, then they are free to be offended, and we are not obliged to care, or make hasty retreat – matter closed. Human rights are essential rights for people to exist as who they are without stifling one another; special privileges introduced into this equation to protect the emotions of certain groups grossly extends past such parameters of neutrality and begins encroachment upon the rights of others. This is a simple example of human rights as they stand, and not as the shoddy parody that they've become in today's world where malicious political elements are free to pick and chose what they want in order to support their tyranny while leaving out everything else that might be at absolute odds with the same tyrannical thesis.

This is absolute state-terrorism on the part of Russia. It carries political ramifications, and places a great deal of power, coercion, and theological abuse in the hands of an archaic institution such as the Russian Orthodox Chruch, which is quickly beginning to rival the dogmatic reach of Wahabist state doctrine in Saudi Arabia. Suddenly, the religious elite are awarded vulgar levels of appurtenance that allows them to do something about being merely offended. The system is granting these special few a level of dominion over their own fellow humans by allowing their cultural sensitivities priority and permit to trample over the very personal sanctity of others in a fascistic mission to impose censorship in the name of a non-falsifiable hypothesis: God. Apparently, in the eyes of God's chosen establishment, we are now mere animals for being unbelievers – our right to express a lack of faith doesn't merit an acknowledgement, let alone some level of protection against such virulent intimidation and state-endorsed assault.

“Why don't we turn our attention to that thread of hypocrisy that has penetrated The United Nations? I think that we should.” - A Thought

Aside from being a sceptic, I regularly drift into outright cynicism; world affairs often leave a lot to be desired, with even pettier excuses to merit the problems incurred. However, I will for one brief moment, give this moronic interpretation of modernity and human rights a sincere benefit of doubt. Perhaps the intentions are noble; perhaps in pursuit of generating tolerance, political figures and individuals with power have lost sight of the forest for the trees. Now, having done this -- having spent more time trying to manipulate religious parties into getting along, the policy-pushers have essentially ostracised a major bracket of agnostics and sceptics who not only feel politically excluded, but are also falling under an insidious wave of onslaught from various religious orthodoxy. So much for protecting all sects of society.

As it stands, rather than defending human rights from a source of neutrality where beliefs – in the absurd and otherwise – aren't required to be protected, but rather, people are to be protected from the dangerous, venomous dictates that stem from such beliefs, we have a trend towards protecting beliefs, and extending their reach beyond self-practice into a territory of sheer infringement upon outsiders. I have written about this in the past; human rights isn't about protecting religion and assigning it executive power; such progress is about defending minorities of all walks – religious and non-religious – from being persecuted by ideological, and by extension, religious dogma. This logical blunder, which is still tolerated and allowed to continue, should have been called out and should have become evident to the individuals who're playing a part in perpetuating said blunder.

I already touched on this subject in 2010 when I addressed the blasphemy law proposition. We already know that the UN – as an organisation – is contaminated with the tarnished presence of fork-tongued scum from Islamist countries, who carry with them, a very dubious agenda to not only award religion a specific spot of privilege that trumps human rights, but also disgraceful policy that deviates attention from serious issues within the Islamic creed that are at absolute odds with the civilised world. It is bad enough that nearly a billion individuals find themselves ideologically oppressed under such heinous theocratic harassment; now we're actually contorting essential rights to appease these glorified bullies?! This is either the product of professionally disgraceful short-sightedness, which I doubt, or the ominous undertone of malicious elements in policy making and execution. Unfortunately, despite the benefit of doubt, my cynicism and general disgust with the vermin that the UN allows into its sanctum wins out, and much to my own dismay.

“And what of that eccentric punk band that no one had heard of, who ended up pissing off the Russian church and its elite dictators, who in turn brought down the wrath of their man-made God – government, in this case – upon these errant heathens?! Now in jail for two years for mere political and theological dissent in the most passive and speech-expressive of mannerisms. All because a bunch of megalomaniacs in robes and collars got offended!” – Harsh Truths

It's high time that we stop sailing aimlessly in a sea of false gestures, and actually do the one thing to eliminate ideologically driven human intolerance, by becoming intolerant towards such heinous policy where political process becomes a lap dog for Draconian cultures set to oppress, diminish, and destroy every crucial aspect of human thought, freedom, and progress.

Russia's had one hell of a sordid history over the last century or so, and it's a damn shame that they're now quite possibly at the forefront of resurrecting another branch of the dark ages. A travesty permitted only by a cancerous political hierarchy that has allowed their legal and political systems to be seized by religious zealots, who're focused on imposing their tyranny; subverting human dignity and enlightenment by executing their malicious proselytism of contemporary culture and human rights in name of their monopoly over the all-eternal mute and absent dictator: God.

This saga, I hope, will go down as a brief, but utterly shameful reminder to the people of Russia that their leadership is now generously prostituting itself to a religious status quo that has always existed and corrupted much throughout Russian history. It's a shame for the people, and an even bigger shame for the rest of the world as we stand by idle, not even daring to make that pivotal gesture of support and solidarity against such a sickening attack on freedom of conscience; we have allowed in this day and age, the passing of something that should not be tolerated. We are witnessing the violation of very basic human rights for the sake of protecting and finding common ground between the monotheistic charlatans who're driven by delusions of divine grandeur. It's quite frightening, actually; imagine what will happen once these parties that lay sole claim to a one and only, malicious and capricious God, finally find common ground. The prospects of everyone else – who would dare to refuse servitude under such barbarianism – seem very dire under such a terrifying trend.

“Rather than make apologies, and remain reticent on the question behind the real issue of religion's subversion of human rights in the context of modernity, we should approach and prioritise this issue of society and human dignity from the right corner – human rights. These essential rights should take absolute precedence over all other forms of orthodoxy, cultural sensitivities, and theological oppression. People belonging to a special club of ideas are entitled to be offended if someone doesn't agree with or respect those ideas, and that's where it ends; they have no special place to penalise those that dare to dissent.  
More importantly, we shouldn't waste more of our time pandering to the mediation process between religions and their fanatic elements, when we should actually be protecting people from the fallout of these very elements that have human rights violations almost hard-wired in their design. People don't want their beliefs protected when they already have all the rights to practice any element of their choice. What they want is protection from other beliefs that might impose upon their very fundamental existence or differing views. Unfortunate indeed that the Russian justice system, instead of protecting its citizens, is actually becoming the very force that violates their basic rights and dignity. We have gone beyond patent intolerance and straight into the down-right ironic with this modern-day re-enactment of medieval savagery that has no place in a post-enlightenment era, let alone the bloody twenty-first century!” – The Closer

I am going to finish by taking a quote from the My Secret Atheist+ Blog post on this subject, “Who's interested in Human Rights?” Better yet, I'll couple this excellent quote with another quote that is often floating around inside my circle of malcontent folk, “Sure, they've got their human rights and right to religion, but what about our human rights?” As a collective, we have a rational, and utmost humanistic moral prerogative to emancipate all forms of human rights articles from their present incarceration under the purpose of serving religious convenience. There should be no tolerance for such nonsense -- as has been the unfortunate case with Pussy Riot's sentencing -- in this day and age, let alone the offensive treading around, and embarrassing defence of the subject by representatives of other world powers who are too busy playing meaningless cultural diplomacy. I am sorry, but a few neutered, generic sentiments of passive condemnation are not doing the case for human rights any kind of service.




References


BBC (2012, August 17). Pussy Riot members jailed for two years for hooliganism. BBC News - Europe. Retrieved August 25, 2012, from http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-19297373

My Secret Atheist+ Blog (2012, August 22). Pussy Riot and Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird: Looking out for the interests of Putin and the Russian Orthodox Church. My Secret Atheist+ Blog. Retrieved August 24, 2012, from http://www.mysecretatheistblog.com/2012/08/pussy-riot-and-canadian-foreign-affairs.html

The United Nations (1948, December 10). The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The United Nations. Retrieved August 25, 2012, from http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/index.shtml

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Looking Back at 2011: The Legacy of Intellectual Dishonesty – A Critique of The Daily Mail's Up and Coming Demagogue, A.N. Wilson

The year 2011 was quite eventful, despite many of those events being expected and perhaps even trivial. However, the one thing that my mind does keep going back to is the London riots, and more particularly, the general public and media perception of the phenomenon. I recall getting very aggravated by certain columnists, especially Daily Mail's A.N. Wilson, who took it upon himself to seize the opportunity for his own myopic religious critique of social decline. Perhaps it was a creatively dry period and he had no better pitch to offer other than to take an obnoxious religious angle on the matter, but I think it was more the case of intentional demagoguery. I also recall that even in my post from last year, I brought up the humility of religious thinkers who were abstaining from the act of harsh judgement as a testament to their values. It was really a paradoxical moment since I – as an 'amoral atheist' by Wilson's broad stroke perception – was talking about not judging others as well. Meanwhile, this upper middle-class shill with a metal-bound Bible up his ass was patently denouncing the ignorance, disillusionment, and absolute desperation of the weak as a product of their vices and theological inferiority, compounded by the secularisation of society.

Now a year on from the event and the media circus that it spawned, I am taking the opportunity to finally address my mention of theism in that last post, and with particular regard for its purpose of use before this piece turns into a potentially blind vindication of manipulative charlatans like Wilson of The Daily Mail and his embarrassing column on the virtues of religion during these riots (Wilson, 2011).

It should be made perfectly clear that hijacking this disastrous outcome that was the 2011 London riots to promote an esoteric agenda -- with potentially ulterior motives -- is not going to fly in the face of reason. Using this social phenomenon to execute a one-sided commentary on the moral decline of society, and then blame it on the lack of religious values is not going to work in a rational discussion, especially when that argument is further supplemented with laments about how people aren't free to don or sport religious symbols any longer like the next fancy fashion accessory (Wilson, 2008). This is an ironic key point in Mr. Wilson's poorly concealed exposition -- or deception, more like it -- because it is actually the direct result of other religious presence in this country and has nothing to do with those that are, how would one say, 'religiously apathetic'. Last time I checked, it was other religious minorities that took exception in greater numbers to the idea of Christmas being called 'Christmas' because of their counter-theological inclinations or sense of feeling undermined. It was other religious minorities that took offence to Christian folk of this country donning their symbols, which hasn't really stopped anyone since they still continue to do so, and I personally continue to not give a shit about. It was the product of multiculturalism where other religiously galvanised minorities felt 'less equal' when one particular symbol was dominant, again another factor that warrants little care on my part as the antitheist.

Individuals like A.N. Wilson would insincerely mourn the tragic death of Tariq Jahan's son and his two friends as a subterfuge to pass this idealistic positive view of how people of all faiths who feel answerable to some 'higher moral authority' are truly the ones to shine at such times. Yet another poorly veiled attempt at seizing interfaith dialogue for ulterior gains. Not to mention, something that we know Mr. Wilson doesn't embrace all that sincerely. All this hypocritical garbage, while continuing to peddle the same mantra about disaffection and lack of morality resulting in the suppression of very specific Christian values in this country, a truth that is horribly undercut by this devious man's own prior writings. This emergence of counter-Christianisation is something that he himself admitted – more or less – was a direct result of the 'Islamisation of UK' brought on by what he considered mass immigration; a publicly professed tangent from no more than four-years-ago (Wilson, 2008).

Make no mistake, we are all free to change our minds, but when it comes to a serious re-think of prior ramblings, then we offer umbrage and apologies for the error of our old ways before we proceed to haphazardly contradict our prior works; we should have the grace to admit that we were wrong before any such deviations are expected to be taken seriously. On the other hand, Mr. Wilson's shameless, hypocritical diatribe that demonstrated the same recycled 'victim card' nonsense -- with selected facts and confounders being left out -- was attributed as a straw man argument against the rationalist movement, which is a downright shame. I refuse to believe that an individual who is so patently deceptive, and morally bankrupt, could ever be a truly God fearing human being. Hell, if I was a betting man, I'd bet that he doesn't even believe in any higher moral authority given how shamelessly he'll twist his own statements to fit the counter-cultural fad of the current affairs. This man's a career media-manipulator and probably has a great potential for being a salesman for the Tea Party movement in the United States.

The low down critique of A.N. Wilson's self-serving monologues:

  • Good people do good things, and bad people do bad things. Fundamental conditioning and extraordinary factors aside, cultural agendas and religion, while engrained at a younger age, simply become more of a justification of the fundamental values and leanings of the concerned individual at a later stage. (Example: 'I must wage war because my religion says so.' Or, 'I must do charitable deeds because my religion says so.' There's something very extraordinary that a pacifist Moslem has in common with an Islamic Fanatic – they both do what they feel they need to do, and justify it using different aspects of the same faith that fits their personal agendas.)

  • Tariq Jahan seems like a genuinely good man, so he did a good thing and used his religion as a positive philosophy to drive the point further rather than preach down from an offensively detached ivory tower. Hell, the man hardly even made mention of his creed. All he expressed truly was disappointment towards how his son's life ended, and closed on a plea that the matter be left as it is since his faith gives him comfort in the idea that his son is destined for heaven. Of course, we can always trust spin-meisters like A.N. Wilson to twist this around into a pro-religious argument.

  • Funny part being that the typical profile of most of these 'disaffected youths' was that of lower income families who have plenty of misplaced faith and religion in their households to compensate for the lack of material success. I might be overgeneralising here, but it is, generally speaking, an accurate assumption that these are the people who tend to rely on religion, and despite this reliance, it is clearly not getting the job done. Why? Perhaps because there's a wealth of other factors that drive people towards greed, depravity and avarice. It is also another reason why people, in the name of any higher moral authority, end up committing some of the most heinous acts known to humanity (Pogatchnik, 2011).

I am going to throw a recycled theory out there, into this ever-changing cesspool that is the internet, and we can also consider this theory, my bottom line. Good folk do good things and bad folk do bad things, and there's a much more complicated cocktail of factors that determine the direction folks take with their lives and agendas that far exceeds the simplistic dictate of dogma. Let's not get religion and their ideology of justification tied up into this mess, otherwise before making any moral authority look good, a lot of us will be making those very authorities, and ourselves, look pretty fuckin' dubious. Also, it just so happens, due to the sheer case of statistical numbers that the majority of immoral and heinous crimes are indeed committed by self-righteous scum supposedly doing the bidding of some higher power under the illusion of divine approval. This isn't an argument against religion, because I do strongly believe that even if we had a majority atheist world, we'd still have a significant degree of heinous acts in the name of some other source of orthodox authoritarianism such as science, logic, or utilitarianism; the list is endless. I am quite certain that this notion isn't entirely lost on sharp, shrewd little authors such as the smug and self-righteous, Mr. Wilson, who're perfectly aware of the inherent contradiction in their vendetta. This includes the misleading undertones of their own various agendas that snipe out at any level-headed reader, and even the hypocrisy that reeks from the totality of the inconsistent dossier that is formed as an end result of their converging works to desperately promote such a factually false, myopic outlook of a society that is presented as having fallen victim to vice as a direct result of decline in faith. Such obnoxious certitude has no place in a reasonable social analysis of any form.

Fact remains that in 2008, this man was blatantly blaming Moslems for the attack on English Christianity, identity, and moral values, along with further attribution to multiculturalism (Wilson, 2008). Today he's singing the exact same lamenting mantra vis-à-vis the English identity, but actually using romanticised notions of the Moslem and other foreign communities to support the same intellectually-crippled argument without any regard for the contradicting precedence set by his prior disaster-pieces of dishonesty, courtesy of The Daily Mail. Mr. Wilson is a classic example of a Fox Hole Atheist, who is now reborn, but not with a self-conscious humility, paired with commitment to a cosmic supremacy or sense of piety, but to a false, politicised agenda – he is deluded like a religious fanatic, and he is manipulative like an arrogant atheist who assumes his own immunity to scrutiny. The man's a Luciferian cocktail of intellectual vices!

Our society, from a rational and a religious stand-point, doesn't need these dangerously dodgy self-parodies like A.N. Wilson to force themselves upon the rest of us as the true and only bearers of a moral compass. I'd dare say that the man's own wayward writings make him a bit of a joke, and a potentially great liar, but this isn't a light matter. Honest, decent-minded individuals probably turn to this man's dented rhetoric to form their own views, and when society has these type of individuals promoting and preaching their flawed thinking in the face of some very strong challenges, the general construct becomes compromised. Yes, there's far bigger things to worry about when it comes to the coercion of individual thought, and the often easy-target known as the government is just one – and most likely the least – of those elements. All one needs to look at is the media, along with powerful entities in the private sector pushing politicised marketing and actually funding their politically motivated lobbies. Looking back again at the media and these passionate pundits who seem like honest connoisseurs of knowledge, one can then fully appreciate and realise that in reality, they're nothing more than beacons for the same subversive thought derailing goal. It'd be great if people could think for themselves, but this romantic Libertarian notion of banning government and embracing subliminal faith  isn't going to rid us of corrosive elements of thought-control such as bad media and dodgy PR. We're constantly being fed information, and not all of it comes from a place of positive inquiry or honest intent.

“Friend of all theists; Moslems and Sikhs alike. An absolute load, and quite possibly the most disingenuous attempt at interfaith dialogue that I have seen in recent years. The moment Dawkins and his ilk die down, Wilson will be back on his high-horse preaching his older mantra in which he bashes Islam and multiculturalism for robbing his nation and kinship of 'their way of life' and their 'beliefs'. Call me a bit old-fashioned and simple, but I never trust a snake! A.N. Wilson can sell his bullshit on the Arab black market, because that's where it fuckin' belongs! As far as I am concerned, individuals like him are the very enemies of our way of life – and of reason – for they have no inward dignity or sense of allegiance to common decency; their rhetoric is about as unconscionable as their papermache faith.” - A Thought

The way I see it -- and here's another low-down on A.N. Wilson -- we're looking at the legacy of a man who abuses the concepts of dignity, belief, and faith; an individual who gives the idea of grace a sordidly bad spin. We are not dealing with a man of grace, and certainly not a champion of the people when he so shamelessly harps on about God and then applies antiquated Victorian classicist judgement on the weak and disillusioned. 'You're not good enough because you're not Godly enough!' that is the mission statement of these false prophets and born-again hypocrites, only looking to offer petty apologies at their man-made altars of greed, shameless self-service, and putrid servility to an elitist ideal.

"No individual, let alone this intellectually stunted, proto-theocratic bully, Wilson, has the face to talk down -- in most condescension -- to those of us with contrary beliefs or lack of theological faith. Neither does this individual have the face to impose his esoteric morality, and his arbitrary judgement upon the genuine, humanistic moral challenges faced by society from atop his sacred tower as a self-appointed authority on the matter. He has no place, and no moral grace of any sort that awards him the distinction to ramble on and be taken seriously as judge and jury about any subject matter, because he feels that his financial status and educational freedom -- a consequence of his sheer luck, fortunate fortune, privilege and status -- award him divine permission from some transuniversal tsar! We should not be subject to tolerating such borderline demagoguery!" - Another Thought Closes

Take it easy, people. Always be wary of individuals selling supposed truth for a dodgy price; don't buy into any more bullshit or the visage of a posing 'New Age Messiah' most likely pretending to be a man of God while leaving his personal back door open to his one and true lord and master – the metaphorical manifestation of humanity's dark side – Satan.




References


Pogatchnik, S. (2011, July 13). Ireland unveils new report on Catholic child abuse. Yahoo News. Retrieved
August 16, 2012, from http://news.yahoo.com/ireland-unveils-report-catholic-child-abuse-141338747.html

Wilson, A. N. (2011, August 13). Legacy of a society that believes in nothing. The Daily Mail. Retrieved August 16, 2012, from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-2025393/UK-riots-Haroon-Jahan-death-Legacy-society-believes-nothing.html

Wilson, A. N. (2008, September 9). The Great Surrender: How Britain has given in to religious fanatics intent on destroying our way of life. The Daily Mail. Retrieved August 16, 2012, from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1054090/The-Great-Surrender-How-Britain-given-religious-fanatics-intent-destroying-way-life.html