I used to love this guy's acting but now?
Denzel Washington associates atheists with sociopaths
Academy Award winning Actor Denzel Washington has a new film out. While out promoting his film “Safe House,” Washington made some pretty appalling associations linking atheists to sociopaths and murderers among others.
In the interview, Washington was asked about his character, Tobin Frost. You can watch the interview in the sidebar but here is the relevant part of his answer (0:13 mark):
“There’s a book I read called, ‘The Sociopath Next Door,’ and… a, it really became sort of the Bible for me in developing this character. I think he is a sociopath. I think he doesn’t have a conscience. I think he is an atheist and a murderer and a liar.”
Imagine the outrage if he had said Jew, Christian, or Muslim instead of atheist in his response. Why is it acceptable for such an acclaimed actor to falsely associate an entire group of people in this way? Why didn’t the interviewer follow up on that?
According to the American Religious Identification Survey, those who have no religious preference make up 15% of the population in the United States and atheism is on the rise in every state. The atheist population in America may soon rival the population of Jews. There are certainly more atheists than there are Muslims in America and yet if Washington associated either of those groups with being sociopaths, murderers, liars, and people who have no conscience he would be viewed on par with Mel Gibson.
Most atheists in America today associate themselves with Humanism, rationalism, science, and reason. Atheists tend to me more educated, are less likely to support torture, and have a long history in this nation of pushing for civil rights. Denzel Washington’s statement isn’t just hateful, it is also far from accurate.
What do you think about Denzel Washington’s statement? Does it make you any less likely to see his films?
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Sadly for me, I love Denzel's acting too. I wonder what he would think if I said I think he's yummy too? I better not go there.
You should totally go there.
I would be happy to show him the gentle, generous, caring side of an atheist, so he can see we are not evil amoral Stalinist psychopaths. Nothing works better than knowing someone. Get me his number, and I'll volunteer.
OK. I'll sacrifice and go with you...
You can find a middle way and resolve not to pay to see his films at the cinema but to only to watch then on TV or online - not that I would ever condone watching pirated films of course!
Hmmm. Okay, I just whipped up a blog entry about this very subject. It's not exactly in the affirmative to the general tenor of this thread, but I gave it some thought and actually watched some of the interviews where Washington discusses this movie and the alleged atheist slur.
I'd appreciate some thoughts/reactions.
Well written and I agree with you. I've often thought that people like Bachmann were without empathy and had no morals beyond their desire to manipulate others, so would be considered sociopath. Washington is kind of small potatoes in the scheme of things.
"The majority of them <sociopaths> are atheists as well." I question this quote and wouldn't mind seeing actual statistics. I realize this probably comes from the author and not Denzel, but it brings to mind someone saying that 'most inmates are atheist' when studies have proven that to be untrue.
One of the reasons to question it is for the exact examples you bring up! Bachmann et al couch their sociopathy under the guise of religiousity which helps to shield them from reasonable debate. Such willful evilness makes my stomach curdle.
You're right. If you compare the percentages of the atheist and religious populations that are in American prisons as of 1997, christians had about a 25 fold greater ratio and moslems about a 240 fold greater ratio than atheists. The ratio that I'm referring to is the percentage of their respective total population that was incarcerated as of that time.
Actually, no. The alleged quote came from Martha Stout's book, The Sociopath Next Door, but nowhere does she mention atheism. That's seems to be Denzel's personal takeaway from what he read.
Oops-my bad. Stupid assumptions.
I think it is common for people to use the term 'atheist' when they mean to use the term 'nihilist'. As if the two are interchangeable. I wonder if this is what happened in the case of Denzel Washington's choice of words. Just yesterday I drove past one of those annoying church signs with the following nugget of wisdom: "Life without God is like an unsharpened pencil. It doesn't have a point."
What struck me as I passed the sign was how I automatically wanted to argue against any assumption that people who don't believe in a deity are somehow leading empty, meaningless lives. And Denzel's comments feed right into the misperception that atheists are also immoral, bad people. Unfortunately, I think this inaccurate and simplistic stereotyping is becoming generalized to the degree that most Christians (even well educated, college-educated Christians) don't think twice about demonizing atheists... we are the perfect scapegoats after all!
The only thing I personally think we can do is prove those assumptions wrong in our daily encounters with people...and I would certainly love to see some of the Hollywood community of atheists come out and show Mr. Washington how wrong he is and that he's got no reason to fear us or hate us.