My New Religion

I began thinking about the proposal to burn the Qur’an on September 11th. Pastor Terry, as we know now, was bluffing. His goal was “to expose that there is an element of Islam that is very dangerous and very radical” as he puts it. I agree with him in that respect. In my opinion, anyone who interprets what the Bible, Qur’an, etc., says to be real is beyond the realm of human rationality. If burning books is my religion then who is to tell me it’s wrong? If being a anti-gay, anti-military, anti-meat, anti-abortion, or anti-stupid is what I believe then technically everyone has the right to disagree, but I have still have the right to believe such things—as long, of course, as I don’t cause harm to others.

So a literal reading of the Qur’an says to love your family and Allah and don’t eat pig…that’s fine. When it says to kill Infidels, well, that’s a different story. The Bible says to not lie, or steal, or nail your neighbor’s wife…ok whatever. When people show up on my doorstep on a Saturday morning to tell me that Adam and Eve sinned; and Jesus paid for that sin by dying on the cross; and that a space god will someday forgive me of those sins; and I will live with him, and my family, and all my dead do-gooder friends in a house of gold and clouds and translucent houses…I reserve the right to call them an unmentionable name and shoe them off my porch. In some ways I envy their naivety, and in others I despise it…usually the latter.

Anyway, back to the whole “burning the Qur’an and why a fundamentalist’s view of this is distorted” thing. No where in the Constitution does it say that burning the Qur’an is alright. However, the Constitution allows for the free expression of people, some of whom may wish to burn things. If the burning of a US flag is protected as such an expression then a Qur’an is fair game. Nazis can march, God can hate fags, etc. etc. We all can identify hateful things others have said about us or our social group. Deal with this you less than sane fundamentalists. It is the grand bargain of living in America.

The same Constitutional protection that guarantees free exercise of religion for Muslims & other mainstream religions in America allows it for this group in Florida. It is often said that freedom is not free; well, one’s own freedom of worship and expression has a cost, allowing others the same freedom even when it offends or disgusts us.

Just to be contrarian, which I’ve been known to be, but why not have a book burning of all religious texts? Such an act would thereby prove, at least for a brief period, that the book itself is not the content. I can go out and buy a new Torah, King James Bible, Qur’an, Book of Mormon, Book of Urantia, or any other fairy tale, regardless of whether some dolt burns it or not. The act does not negate the text or the words. Is the ritualistic burning of all of these sacred texts truly sinister? No. As a society we agree that it is so, as we agree that book burning is a symbolic act of trying to negate the text. As an agnostic I would consider burning a Tucker Max book, or Shakespeare for that matter, just to be “sinister” only because I get greater reading pleasure from them.

Having said that, I think the burning of another’s religious text as a sign of rejection or protest is asinine. The act of burning doesn't negate Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Mormonism, Scientology, or even being a Jedi. It’s just a way to be insulting. The pastor that organized this burning is an “ass hat” as my 14-year-old nephew would say. The people that attend the event are just misled “ass hats.” The worst thing we can do is to fan the flames by giving it greater symbolic weight than it deserves.

Oh and by the way, the hyper-sensitivity expressed by some Muslims is just as silly. If the faith of a person is precariously perched upon the physical presence of a book then it speaks volumes about the precarious nature of that person’s faith. And why is one person’s sensitivity greater than another? It isn’t a question of who was first—the Jew, the Mormon, the Christian, the Muslim, the alien, the chicken, or the egg; it’s just a question of being respectful towards your fellow human being.

My new religion…George Carlin is God, DeNiro stands at heaven to check you in, and Abe Vigoda decides if you get in or not, we never meet to pray, and our holy book is Webster’s Thesaurus. This is the Word of Deniro…thanks be to George.

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Comment by Brian J Geisler on October 6, 2010 at 9:13pm
Thanks Glen...yes it is an essay question. Trying to get some good ideas. CRUNCH TIME!!! thanks again....
Comment by Frankie Dapper on October 6, 2010 at 1:05pm
Brian, I am worried about how this is going to affect my gpa. Did I fail?
Comment by Frankie Dapper on October 6, 2010 at 12:59pm
Brian, Your question sounds like a question from final exam in a philosophy of religion class. I guess Huckabee does the same thing all religio-candidates do. They paint "values" derived from their narrow world view as absolute. They characterize the outsiders and enemy politicians as having transgressed those moral absolutes.
Comment by Brian J Geisler on October 6, 2010 at 12:10pm
the question below goes out to anyone interested who is willing to answer
Comment by Brian J Geisler on October 6, 2010 at 12:04pm

To digress, how do you feel about Huckabee's religious platforms from the 2008 campaign and upcoming 2012 campaign? I guess my question is how has he misappropriated mythos and presented it as logos?

Comment by Frankie Dapper on October 5, 2010 at 3:55pm
Brian, It is not the duty of the government to control what you think or how you think. I simply think it is prudent, even incumbent on the government to prohibit the kind of hate speech I discussed. Constitutional law is filled with balancing tests. In my estimation the government's interest in protecting its citizens from nooses, concentration camps, random acts of violence, fear for one's safety far outweighs the interest of the nazis et. al. to speech. In no other way am I in favor of limiting speech. (I do however disagree with con. law first amendment pornography.)
Comment by Brian J Geisler on October 5, 2010 at 2:03pm
Thank you to yourself and everyone involved in this discussion. Your feedback is greatly appreciated. I would like to clear up one thing. I don't advocate the the use, or misuse I should say, of free speech in every situation. I simply understand and empathize. Because the laws are such, and we as Americans can afford such liberties, I ask you not to agree with the interpretation of these Constitutional rights, but to seek in them (whether you agree or disagree) a certain degree of, "OK, if you want to be a bigoted KKK a-hole that's fine. When I tell you God isn't real, but if he were he wouldn't hate African Americans, and that you are a misled dolt don't burn a cross on my lawn." I don't advocate the burning of any religious text. As I mentioned--it's completely asinine. However, because we live in a country such as this, if that's what you want to do with your spare time--by all means go ahead...personally, I'd rather read the book than burn it. Again, thank you everyone for your comments and keep them coming. Anything you have to say about any of my other blogs is much appreciated as well. It's nice to have people read what I write and explain their similarities and differences in rationale, rather than categorically list all the reasons I'm going to hell.
Comment by Frankie Dapper on October 5, 2010 at 12:56pm
Jim, you are correct-free speech is not absolute. The supreme court identifies and categorizes the speech in question before deciding what level of protection or test to apply. If memory serves commercial speech is afforded the least protection. Political speech is given the greatest protection and for the reasons I indicate in prior post.
I would give our government carte blanche to dismantle those groups-make it criminal. The supreme court is going to define hate speech. The know it when we see it deal was Justice Frankfurter re pornography. That was pretty silly. When the individual or groups in question think that the "solution" is racial, when that race has been historically persecuted, when the individual or group in question has committed or intends to commit violence. . . The supremes can fashion a test. They have dealt with tougher stuff. Some cases will be close calls. There are and always have been nebulous or close calls.
As you point out one can not use free speech to threaten a public official. But you can use free speech to threaten a whole race! My thinking is like the early thinking on legalization of marijuana. At first it seems so radical. Then it gains momentum and more people come over to the dark side and see how dam stupid our policies are.
Comment by Jim DePaulo on October 5, 2010 at 10:16am
Glen, we don't have unbridled free speech. One can not use free speech to threaten a public official, incite a riot, cause an immediate danger to the public (yell fire in the theater), lie to law officers or hinder a criminal investigation to name a few.
When it comes to defining hate speech, who is going to define what hate speech is? Will it be an open ended, "we know it when we see it" type deal? Will that be redefined with each administration?
As much as I despise groups like Christian Identity, the KKK, Aryan Nation and their ilk, restricting their speech will not stop their irrational hatred or acts of violence. Preventing such groups trom doing harm lies with law enforcement not legislation and not by subverting the Constitution (enough of that has already been done).
I understand your concerns but can't support your solution.
Comment by Frankie Dapper on October 4, 2010 at 10:13pm
Prog Rock Girl,
David Hume made a similar argument against popery. He wanted to give the catholics "free speech". Their ideas are so flawed that they will die off in the free market place of ideas. He was wrong. ( I think he was brilliant and eventually it may happen.) Actually my idea will send the right message to the overwhelming majority of Americans, especially youth. We aint going to tolerate you pricks in this day and age. Let the teabaggers or whomever express their outrage that neonazis have been stopped and dismantled. The argument will go, who is next. . . It is a specious argument. Nobody is next. Let us not have a foolish consistency. Getting the government and the citizens behind a worthy cause, rooting out the most pernicious hate will put the fringe groups on the defense, diminish their numbers and help unite Americans. It is a way of celebrating our diversity and protecting our lives and liberty at the expense of doctrinaire braindead thinking.

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