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I like New York in June, how about Jews?
March 1, 2011 3:32 AM   Subscribe

So somehow a (reform? cultural but not religious?) Jewish comedienne who wears a t-shirt marked "I love Jew Cock" is relevant to a post about the pain of middle-aged shomer negiah.

Uh. Well. You asked for someone to take it to MetaTalk so here we are.

Oh, and somehow it's zarq's fault because apparently zarq's Jewish?

Someone else manage this from here. I have no idea.
posted by gingerest to Etiquette/Policy at 3:32 AM (211 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

I like New York in June, how about Jews?

I pretty much like them no matter what time of year it is.
posted by gman at 3:46 AM on March 1, 2011 [6 favorites]


Yeah. I dunno what exactly was going on with the original comment, but I could probably do without the term "Jew thread" to refer to posts that involve Jewish people/theology/practices/politics/issues.
posted by Myca at 3:51 AM on March 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


A little more direct context would be in order here, gingerest, so that people will be a little clearer on why you've made this Metatalk post:

This comment of uncanny hengeman's is the one where he, inexplicably, links to zarq's profile page, using "by a Jew" as the link text. I said it in the thread, and I'll say it again: WTF?

His subsequent comment (which contains this jewel:"zarq, who wears his Jewishness on his sleeve and pops up in every Jew thread") is also, IMO, beyond the pale.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:59 AM on March 1, 2011 [9 favorites]


Oh, shoulda previewed, gingerest. Now I see that your "somehow" link IS to the comment itself. I missed that.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:00 AM on March 1, 2011


It might just be the sort of tin ear of 'Jew thread.' Someone may identify as a cultural Jew or observant Jew, but that particular construction seems inflammatory and insulting.
posted by fixedgear at 4:01 AM on March 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


I found the original bit in the thread out of the blue and icky, but I'm not sure what this callout is going to accomplish. Whatever explanation there is for the weird behavior, I doubt we're going to get it. (There was also some weirdness in the awful Critical Mass thread tonight from the same user, which leads me to believe there's something bigger going on.) I hope the mods talk to him and get it sorted out.
posted by stoneweaver at 4:02 AM on March 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Is zarq actually even Jewish? Despite being part of such a super-elite club, I don't keep track of my fellow members. If only we had a special badge or something, maybe a yellow star, you know, to help us identify one another more easily.

But seriously, WTF indeed. What does a comedian's raunchy tshirt have to do with an Orthodox woman's struggle with her faith and fulfillment? I want to give everyone the benefit of the doubt, here; maybe it's something to do with shallowness and feminine advertising of sexual availability in a variety of Jewish-oriented ways? But it comes off as more, "hey this Jew thing made me think of this other Jew thing that also offends me. Women who talk about sex are vulgar." If that's not the intended meaning then explanation is needed. I wish people would realize that we're not all on the same wavelength at the same time - I can't fill in the blanks, and if I try, the chances of me being offended are exponentially higher.
posted by Mizu at 4:07 AM on March 1, 2011 [5 favorites]


It's okay flapjax - anything that makes this clearer is good, right? And it is my first time to this particular rodeo.

(Also it strikes me that perhaps my pop culture references are making a vague situation foggier. "How About You" is a 1941 duet from the musical Babes on Broadway, and it begins "I like New York in June/How about you?/I like a Gershwin tune/How about you?" so it was a play on words and probably not a very funny one in the context. I apologize.)
posted by gingerest at 4:08 AM on March 1, 2011


He's right that I called him a troll once. I apologize for that -- I should not have called him a troll on the Blue.

He's also right that I 'wear my Jewishness on my sleeve.' I wouldn't have described myself that way, but I suppose it's not inaccurate. I think he expressed it a little crudely, but whatever. I'll assume in good faith that he's being awkward and not trying to express antisemitism.

If one of the mods could kindly remove the link to my profile in his comment, I'd be grateful.
posted by zarq at 4:08 AM on March 1, 2011


Deleted a bunch of comments, gave uncanny hengeman the week off.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 4:12 AM on March 1, 2011 [21 favorites]


I find the comment baffling, I don't see how it's relevant that a Jewish comedienne wears a shirt, and I am not actually convinced that the comedienne in question is Jewish (though I am willing to be corrected on this; the only thing I see is that she describes herself as Scandinavian).

I also think that, to the extent that zarq does wear his Jewishness on his sleeve, I don't see anything wrong with that, and in some ways I feel like this gets into a much deeper internet issue wherein people with knowledge or expertise in a certain area get pushed aside as axe-grindy or obsessed with something or just get shouted down [please note: this is NOT EVEN REMOTELY just a comment about Metafilter, and I think Metafilter is better than a lot of places about this, but it is something that happens a lot on the internet].

I know that I as a teacher and (I believe) my husband as a public defender and certainly myself as a Christian have avoided various threads either because we felt that we it wouldn't be worth it or because we'd come off as fighty or axe-grindy because we were talking about something that's very important to us. If being Jewish is important to zarq and a big part of his identity, it's not surprising that it comes up frequently and I think it's worth making sure we listen (not necessarily agree, but listen) to people who care deeply about or have personal connections to issues that come up on the site.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 4:16 AM on March 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


Deleted a bunch of comments, gave uncanny hengeman the week off.
posted by jessamyn ★ at 7:12 AM on March 1 [1 favorite +] [!]


Damn it, should have previewed, but awesome. Also, I like that jessamyn's star copy/pastes! Yay I am posting a star on Metafilter.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 4:17 AM on March 1, 2011



posted by sonic meat machine at 4:19 AM on March 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


... is also, IMO, beyond the pale.

I see what you did there.
posted by atrazine at 4:31 AM on March 1, 2011 [9 favorites]


I see what you did there.

Ha! Totally forgot about the origins of that phrase! Thanks for the reminder.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:35 AM on March 1, 2011


hengeman isn't the only one with an issue here: bardic's got some serious anti-religious aggression I wish he'd burn off elsewhere.

Seriously: telling people you think that the traditions around which they have organized their life need to die off as quickly as possible does not strike me as being particularly civil. Others in the thread have expressed similar sentiments, and mild antipathy towards organized religion is just something I've come to assume from a significant chunk of the MeFi population, but there's a way to express that without being shitty about it.
posted by valkyryn at 4:51 AM on March 1, 2011 [8 favorites]


Thank you, Jessamyn.
posted by zarq at 4:51 AM on March 1, 2011


Mrs. Pterodactyl: Also, I like that jessamyn's star copy/pastes! Yay I am posting a star on Metafilter.

uncanny hengeman told me that jessamyn's forced to wear it to identify her as a Jew.
posted by gman at 4:55 AM on March 1, 2011 [26 favorites]


flapjax at midnite: "You eat lunch yet?"
gman: "No, Jew?"
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:58 AM on March 1, 2011


hengeman isn't the only one with an issue here: bardic's got some serious anti-religious aggression I wish he'd burn off elsewhere.

posted by valkyryn at 12:51 PM on March 1 [+] [!]


It seems to me that a thread about how religion has seriously screwed up a woman's life is an appropriate place to get angry and anti about it. There are quite a few of us here with some "serious anti-religious aggression" and we have plenty of justification for it. I try to keep mine reined in when it isn't actually relevant, but on a thread like this I say that it is relevant, and I am glad that some people here have no truck with the predictable moaning about those who go after religion. Religion should not get any special passes or special protection from attack, any more than any other group of ideas or beliefs should. Those days are over. Thank god.
posted by Decani at 5:03 AM on March 1, 2011 [36 favorites]


It's not about getting a pass, it's about having a respectful conversation. I don't get all aggro about aspects of your lifestyle I find objectionable. Why should you be able to do that to me?
posted by valkyryn at 5:22 AM on March 1, 2011 [7 favorites]


I think you will find that, whatever your personal behavior, organized religions have historically been, and are currently being, "aggro" about "aspects of lifestyle" for many, many, many individuals. A certain amount of defense and even returned aggression is to be expected.
posted by DU at 5:24 AM on March 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


So basically bad behavior by others justifies bad behavior for you? That's how we want to run this community?
posted by valkyryn at 5:26 AM on March 1, 2011 [5 favorites]


It's not about getting a pass, it's about having a respectful conversation. I don't get all aggro about aspects of your lifestyle I find objectionable. Why should you be able to do that to me?

First of all, I don't think anyone is doing that to you. Or anyone (at least not in that thread). Understand that a lot of people have been directly harmed by a religious lifestyle. It's not just that they find it "objectionable" but that there has been real tangible harm done to them because of it. I think the original FPP is a good example of that. There is a real tangible harm that has been done to that woman by religion, and she's talking about it. Now, maybe it's not the best response to get all upset and vocally angry, but that doesn't make it an unreasonable reaction. Particularly when it's not directed at any MeFite. Personalizing people's comments doesn't make MetaFilter a better place for you or for anyone. Learning to not take it personally when someone talks about something close to your heart is hard, but very worthwhile.
posted by stoneweaver at 5:28 AM on March 1, 2011 [8 favorites]


If only we had a special badge or something

I read that as "badger" and then was imagining a movement in which Jewish people are armed with honey badgers to protect against anti-Sematism.
posted by NoraReed at 5:33 AM on March 1, 2011 [38 favorites]


I think you will find that, whatever your personal behavior, organized religions have historically been, and are currently being, "aggro" about "aspects of lifestyle" for many, many, many individuals.

Collectively? Like they gathered somewhere as a group and discussed how to make this one woman's sex life miserable?
posted by Astro Zombie at 5:33 AM on March 1, 2011 [4 favorites]


To me more specific:

There is a real tangible harm that has been done to that woman by religion, and she's talking about it.

By "religion"? No. By one movement within one larger religion, yes. If your thesis is that religion as a whole is bad for people, that's a larger discussion, but one that does a really effective job of derailing a specific discussion into a general one, and suddenly the thread becomes about how some people think all religions are inherently bad. Which has proven to be a conversational dead end, and also distracts from the specificity of the original discussion.
posted by Astro Zombie at 5:36 AM on March 1, 2011 [25 favorites]


No, bad behavior doesn't justify bad behavior. But you've yet to link to any bad behavior. Person doesn't like religion and says so. I'm explaining why. I don't have to explain why people don't like yogurt or yoga to defend them from charges of being "aggro".

The problem here is not the "attacker". The problem is the culture of victimhood that religions inspire in their believers. When a neutral position is taken as an attack, you can be sure that a mild distaste will be taken as "aggro".
posted by DU at 5:36 AM on March 1, 2011 [18 favorites]


Wow, that really brought out the weird stuff.

There are quite a few of us here with some "serious anti-religious aggression" and we have plenty of justification for it.

There's also quite a few people here with serious anti-women aggression, and anti-brown-people aggression, and so on. Just because you have those feelings, and have them very strongly, doesn't make it a good direction to go in for the community.

There's a place and way to have a conversation about religion -- including the past and present misbehaviours in the name of various religions, the benefits, etc -- that doesn't personalize it or make people feel bad. That's not how I have seen anti-religion comments normally play out in discussions here, but I don't seek out those discussions, either. Like Stoneweaver says, personalizing these things makes life miserable to the mods and unpleasant for the rest of us.
posted by Forktine at 5:37 AM on March 1, 2011 [4 favorites]


IReligion should not get any special passes or special protection from attack, any more than any other group of ideas or beliefs should. Those days are over. Thank god.

Well, it is sort of interesting that the treatment of this woman's religious convictions seems so much more civilised that the treatment of another person's (pretty much functionally equivalent) religious convictions in this thread.

My immediate thought of the "middle-aged shomer negiah" was that it was a good thing she wasn't a teenage Pentecostal male wrester.
posted by three blind mice at 5:38 AM on March 1, 2011 [7 favorites]


That's fucked up, and the sooner all forms of organized religion die off the better.

That's not a neutral position, DU.
posted by Dano St at 5:42 AM on March 1, 2011 [9 favorites]


I accept the change to my wording as a friendly amendment, as I was not trying to paint all religion as broadly as I did. It's not an easy thing to fight against my innate urge to over qualify everything I say, and sometimes I do go too far in the other direction. It's a delicate balance - using enough words but not going overboard.
posted by stoneweaver at 5:48 AM on March 1, 2011


I don't know what's worse: wearing that t-shirt or being so blatent about the fact that you sell said (crudely-made) t-shirt on Flickr, of all places.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 6:05 AM on March 1, 2011


was imagining a movement in which Jewish people are armed with honey badgers to protect against anti-Semitism.

Be the change you want to see in the world. I'll get right on this.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:21 AM on March 1, 2011 [39 favorites]


Part of me wants to very snarkily ask people like DU if following a disorganized religion is better.

And part of me wants to note that those of us who are members of the Metafilter Pagans (not an organized group, but I know there's more than just two or three of us here) would appreciate you change brushes before tarring us with '*insert faith that causes you to derive irrational anger*'.

Both of them are not really good responses, I admit, but they'll do for now.

(yes, yes, I know, it's a bad pony thing, but I'd prefer people didn't Hitchens all over the place.)
posted by mephron at 6:29 AM on March 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've come to the very serious conclusion that as a strong atheist, it is never ok to talk about religion to anyone, ever.
posted by fuq at 6:30 AM on March 1, 2011 [10 favorites]


Is zarq actually even Jewish?

Check the FAQ for a list of "Jew members".
posted by Joe Beese at 6:33 AM on March 1, 2011 [13 favorites]


Jewish people are armed with honey badgers to protect against anti-Semitism.

Streit's does a promo every year at Passover, and if you save enough matzoh box tops you can redeem them for a free honey badger.
posted by elizardbits at 6:35 AM on March 1, 2011 [11 favorites]


That's fucked up, and the sooner all forms of organized religion die off the better.

Judaism isn't really a religion, anyway. It's something else.
posted by KokuRyu at 6:35 AM on March 1, 2011


Judaism isn't really a religion, anyway. It's something else.

It's been explained to me as a tribe and indeed my understanding of Judaism has been increased by conceptualizing it as a tribal ideology rather than a "religion," especially for American values of religion.
posted by fuq at 6:37 AM on March 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Judaism isn't really a religion, anyway. It's something else.

I've long said that Woody Allen informs more of my Jewish identity than Moses.
posted by Joe Beese at 6:38 AM on March 1, 2011


As a strong atheist, I somehow manage to cause far less offence when talking to religious people about religion than I do when talking to my sister about quack medicine. Religious belief does not, in and of itself, necessarily cause people to make decisions harmful to themselves and others.

That said, I do feel rather sad for the Nice Jewish Girl and I hope she pulls her life into a more satisfactory shape soon.
posted by flabdablet at 6:42 AM on March 1, 2011


I don't have to explain why people don't like yogurt or yoga to defend them from charges of being "aggro".

There are two ways to approach a post about something (or tangentially touching on something) you don't personally like.

The first is to go into the thread and state that said thing is really really bad and that anyone who disagrees with you is therefore by association a really really bad person. See also 'your favourite band sucks'.

The second is to just mutter an obscenity into your beard (or into your fifth martini of the morning) and move on.

Which is not to say that all dissenting voices are trolling. It's more subtle than that, and depends on whether you are directly engaging with the topic of the post and expressing relevant and insightful thoughts, or just using a post as a convenient excuse to vent hot air.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 6:45 AM on March 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm very a-religious and talk about religion quite frequently. It rarely gets me in trouble.

Course when I talk about it I express my opinions as my opinions and generally don't fall in the "all religious practitioners are the same" trap, or the "X religion means this and only this" conundrum or the "everyone should (not) believe, in the way I do, because my opinion on the matter is the only correct one" pitfall. I do generally talk about how people live their lives and if they have a particular grating POV (homophobia, misogyny, racism....) I tend to believe it is not the religion that makes that POV, but a particular instance of it reinforces the POV and justifies it. You don't need religion to hate someone else based on X factor. The Soviet government was secular and caused an awful lot of harm.
posted by edgeways at 6:48 AM on March 1, 2011 [13 favorites]


It's been explained to me as a tribe

Reminder: Judaism and Jewishness (and Jewiness!) are not the same thing. You can not care much at all for the former and still find the latter an important part of your life and identity. Though it may be, too, that even Judaism proper doesn't really fit the broad-brush sense of "religion" used by the New Atheist brigade very well, since there are forms of it that don't require a belief in God (or G-d, him either).
posted by RogerB at 6:51 AM on March 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm not surprised to see that thread here. I read the links in the post, thought it was fascinating, and knew better than to comment because it would just piss me off when it popped up in Recent Activity with exactly the sort of stuff that landed it here.
posted by immlass at 6:51 AM on March 1, 2011


Decani : " It seems to me that a thread about how religion has seriously screwed up a woman's life is an appropriate place to get angry and anti about it.

The shomer negiah post is about one person's specific circumstances and lived experiences within a minority sect of Jewish fundamentalists.

The frum lifestyle is not generally presented as a positive tradition to women by non-Orthodox synagogues and Jewish communities. It's certainly not imposed upon them by non-Orthodox rabbis or through peer pressure by those communities (while the latter can be the case in Orthodox communities). Shomer negiah is probably no more than a curiosity to the vast majority of Jews and I daresay it's shunned by most non-Orthodox Jewish women (and men) as weird at best and oppressive/regressive/misogynistic at worst.

Since most Jews clearly reject and don't follow the shomer negiah tradition, adding general and non-specific anti-religious rhetoric into a thread that doesn't quite fit the topic at hand may seem axe-grindy to some folks.

There are quite a few of us here with some "serious anti-religious aggression" and we have plenty of justification for it.

You know, I have a great deal of personal antipathy towards religious extremists and have had no problem saying so on MeFi. People around here don't usually care if a complaint about religious practice is appropriately directed.

Religion should not get any special passes or special protection from attack, any more than any other group of ideas or beliefs should. Those days are over. Thank god."

Asking people to be cognizant that all religious folk do not believe equally, even within a specified religion, isn't asking for "special protection from attack." It's asking people to think and speak intelligently -- with an awareness that giving voice to stereotypes is rarely constructive or accurate.
posted by zarq at 7:45 AM on March 1, 2011 [27 favorites]


"Reminder: Judaism and Jewishness (and Jewiness!) are not the same thing."

(honestly not trolling) so where does zionism fit into that ?

(file under "things I've never understood"..)
posted by k5.user at 7:47 AM on March 1, 2011


k5.user: “so where does zionism fit into that ?”

On the "Jewishness" side. As in: a specific movement within secular Jewishness; a movement that in particular adheres to the notion that Jews in general will be the object of persecution until the day when they establish their own separate country.

Does that answer the question?
posted by koeselitz at 8:03 AM on March 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Whoa whoa whoa there's a brigade? I didn't even realize there was an order of battle. Then again, I've been atheist for 20+ years so maybe I'm not "new" anymore and can go on living peacefully and mindfully.
posted by jtron at 8:05 AM on March 1, 2011


k5.user: ""Reminder: Judaism and Jewishness (and Jewiness!) are not the same thing."

(honestly not trolling) so where does zionism fit into that ?
"

Not all Jews believe there should be a Jewish state. Or that it should exist in its current form.

Judaism is a religion and a culture. Jews also consider people to be biologically Jewish -- meaning a parent is Jewish -- regardless of culture or religious observance. In Orthodox and Conservative Judaism descent is matrilineal.

So the simple answer to your question is: some Jews are Zionists but some aren't. Just as some non-Jews are pro-Israel and some aren't. That's not necessarily driven by religious observance or cultural identity. Most Jews are probably not of equal mind on the subject.

However, the organizations formed by the three major Jewish sects in the US are outwardly pro-Israel. They sponsor trips and promote Jewish charities which support Israel in various ways. But a person can be religious, attend temple services and still be anti-Zionist. Or be pro-Israel but against what has been done to the Palestinians. It's complicated.
posted by zarq at 8:10 AM on March 1, 2011 [6 favorites]


That's fucked up, and the sooner all forms of organized religion die off the better.

That's not a neutral position, DU.


Sure it is. It's a 'pox on all of your houses'. It's also not a particularly objectionable opinion, to me.
posted by empath at 8:11 AM on March 1, 2011


empath : " Sure it is. It's a 'pox on all of your houses'. It's also not a particularly objectionable opinion, to me."

You've changed your mind, then?
posted by zarq at 8:13 AM on March 1, 2011


Religion should not get any special passes or special protection from attack, any more than any other group of ideas or beliefs should.

The problem with these "attacks" is not that they're out-of-bounds, but that they're unfocused. It's the same broad-brush wielding approach that makes it difficult-to-impossible to have any kind of meaningful conversations here about Israel/Palestine or the Catholic child abuse scandals or a dozen other hot-button topics. As soon as a thread so much as mentions Judaism, you can count on a crowd of people taking general license to air all their grievances about the religion/culture/politics, etc. It quickly becomes an avalanche of "And another thing about Jews is..." comments. And as a Jew myself, I can't help but take these things personally. It's one of my least favorite things about Metafilter.

I've expressed this sentiment already a few times in various forms here, but I guess what I'd really like everyone with an anti-religion beef to stop and think about for a second is what tangible impact they think their opinions should or can have. Nobody is in a position to decide whether Judaism or organized religion as a whole should exist. You're not playing some kind of game where you can toggle a "Religion: Yes/No" switch and see what happens. Think of it like an AskMe question: Having an opinion about this woman's particular story and what you would advise her to do is fine, because that advice could actually filter through to her or someone in a similar position, but just going off about how this story is another piece of evidence in the Great Trial Of Religion is fundamentally not a productive attitude to have. And the simple fact is you can never really connect with someone on a personal level if you're so willing to just disregard a whole system of thought that's intimately bound up with the way they live their life.
posted by albrecht at 8:15 AM on March 1, 2011 [8 favorites]


When it really comes down to it, there is no "us" in MetaFilter. That's a hard lesson to learn for some, and people often get tripped up by presuming a false sense of community support for their thoughts and beliefs.
posted by hermitosis at 8:17 AM on March 1, 2011 [6 favorites]


Sure it is. It's a 'pox on all of your houses'.

No, this is "a pox on all your specifically religious houses", which is a good bit different from neutral, regardless of your feelings about said pox.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:19 AM on March 1, 2011 [8 favorites]


I'm pretty sure this will be the thread that finally settles the atheism vs religion debate on this website once and for all.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:20 AM on March 1, 2011 [12 favorites]


You've changed your mind, then?

You two maybe need to take this issue to MeMail, it's been dragging it through a lot of different threads this week.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:20 AM on March 1, 2011


"Part of me wants to very snarkily ask people like DU if following a disorganized religion is better."

Yeah, see quakers. Or...pagans. So no one is painting you with the same brush after all.

The biggest issue with criticizing organized religion as a concept is that people assume that you:

1) Know nothing about various religions or that there is more than one religion
2) Hate them personally
3) Want to murder believers or throw them in camps or forcibly convert them
4) Fail to understand that there are moderate religious people
5) Are just trying to be "edgy"
6) Are overstating the amount of societal influence religion has on the US
6) All of the above

None of these are necessarily valid assumptions. People disagree and that doesn't make them ignorant assholes.
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:27 AM on March 1, 2011 [5 favorites]


Nah. No need. I don't mind objecting to organized religion in general, I'm just bothered by attacks on particular religions.
posted by empath at 8:28 AM on March 1, 2011


... is also, IMO, beyond the pale. I see what you did there.
Ha! Totally forgot about the origins of that phrase! Thanks for the reminder.


Well, not really. I always thought it referred to Ireland, so I looked it up. Now I'm confused: The first instance of the phrase predates "The Pale" in Russia, but seems too late for "The Pale" in Ireland, which is often given as an origin of the phrase.
posted by ob at 8:30 AM on March 1, 2011


Check the FAQ for a list of "Jew members".

My member is Jewish most of the rest of me was raised Catholic.
posted by the_artificer at 8:31 AM on March 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


"I've expressed this sentiment already a few times in various forms here, but I guess what I'd really like everyone with an anti-religion beef to stop and think about for a second is what tangible impact they think their opinions should or can have. "

Should this be the standard for expressing any other opinion on metafilter? Hatred of steampunk? Anti-Lady Gaga posts? Do they need to have a tangible impact?

I appreciate hearing various opinions about religion whether or not they're "productive" just like I appreciate hearing various opinions about many other topics. That's kinda the point of discussing things.
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:33 AM on March 1, 2011 [4 favorites]


jessamyn: "You've changed your mind, then?

You two maybe need to take this issue to MeMail, it's been dragging it through a lot of different threads this week.
"

Respectfully, it's only been two threads, not "a lot of different" ones. One on the Blue and now here.

He's clarified, so I'll drop it now.
posted by zarq at 8:34 AM on March 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


I've long said that Woody Allen informs more of my Jewish identity than Moses.

A Jewish friend said something similar to me years ago. Very insightful, but it fucking ruined "The Ten Commandments" for me.
posted by ob at 8:37 AM on March 1, 2011


Not that I watch it that often.
posted by ob at 8:37 AM on March 1, 2011


telling people you think that the traditions around which they have organized their life need to die off as quickly as possible does not strike me as being particularly civil.

Speaking of the Friends of Moses, joking about prison rape one day and begging for civility on another must be a new definition of chutzpah. I'm sympathetic to your request, I just think there's a little planks and specks business going on here.
posted by octobersurprise at 8:47 AM on March 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


Should this be the standard for expressing any other opinion on metafilter? Hatred of steampunk? Anti-Lady Gaga posts? Do they need to have a tangible impact?

It's better if they do, yes. To take your example, if a thread's about Lady Gaga's latest video, it's one thing to say "I don't like this video or her music for these reasons..." and a completely different thing to say "I wish Lady Gaga didn't exist." The first one might actually persuade someone to think about the ways they consume her products; it might change the way they think about music or media in general (probably NOT if you just stopped at "Lady Gaga sucks" though). The second is just noise; it's advocating for a world that isn't possible. Not everything is up to majority vote, is my point.
posted by albrecht at 8:50 AM on March 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


NoraReed: "I read that as "badger" and then was imagining a movement in which Jewish people are armed with honey badgers to protect against anti-Sematism."

Honey badger don't give a shit about shabbas goys.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:54 AM on March 1, 2011 [6 favorites]


Apparently, we've reached the "airing of grievances" portion of the celebration.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:08 AM on March 1, 2011 [11 favorites]


When's the feats of strength? I've been watching a lot of lucha and there's some new moves I want to try out. Stand right there while I bounce off these ropes...
posted by jtron at 9:12 AM on March 1, 2011


First you must watch my hands and perform the ritual breakdance..
posted by k5.user at 9:19 AM on March 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


"The second is just noise; it's advocating for a world that isn't possible. Not everything is up to majority vote, is my point."

So do you think it's unproductive for people to talk about the positives of organized religion, or, to use your conceptual framework, "vote" for its continued existence?
posted by the young rope-rider at 9:38 AM on March 1, 2011 [3 favorites]



Decani : " It seems to me that a thread about how religion has seriously screwed up a woman's life is an appropriate place to get angry and anti about it.


It may, to those who've shown no small tendency to express anger.
posted by ambient2 at 9:46 AM on March 1, 2011


The first instance of the phrase predates "The Pale" in Russia, but seems too late for "The Pale" in Ireland, which is often given as an origin of the phrase.

Quinion's 1720 citation isn't even close to the earliest usage. Two minutes on eebo.chadwyck.com turned up "if they wil go beyond the pale, if they will pass their bounds" in The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment by Jeremiah Burroughs, pub. 1649. And Burroughs is already using the phrase like it's a familiar idiom, so I'd guess it goes back much further. Anyway, since "pale" is just an old word for barrier, the phrase might just come from the word, with no specific historical reference intended.
posted by DaDaDaDave at 9:56 AM on March 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


Huh? 1720 and 1649? The Irish reference dates back to at least 1340 or so.
posted by yerfatma at 10:25 AM on March 1, 2011


And that's not even as early as the reference in the link the previous poster provided. What exactly are you getting at? I'm confused.
posted by yerfatma at 10:27 AM on March 1, 2011


uncanny hengeman

...racist comments? I find it hard to believe.

Hamburger.

Sure it is. It's a 'pox on all of your houses'.

No, this is "a pox on all your specifically religious houses", which is a good bit different from neutral, regardless of your feelings about said pox.


And in line with "politicians are corrupt", "marxism is terrible", "LOLLibertarians" and other broad-brush dismissals of ideologies, or the idea of having an ideaology. I understand that some people find the idea of a special protection for religion that Marxists and Libertarians don't get appealing, but I'm not sure why MeFi would lean toward it.
posted by rodgerd at 10:33 AM on March 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


yerfatma, you really think a vague discussion on Wikipedia is somehow interchangeable with an actual dated and attested usage?

And FWIW, the OED has a separate entry on the word "pale" (~= fence) with lots of usages from the 14th C, alongside a separate entry on "the English pale" which suggests that it was used to refer to English territory in Calais in the 14th-15th C before it ever applied to Ireland (where their first attestation is from 1549). The entry on the metaphorical/extended use of "beyond the pale" starts at 1720, though.

So I'm going with the "it's just a word" explanation, too. I think this may be one of those folk etymologies where a strong enough political grievance just obviates any concern for accuracy, like the "picnic" thing.
posted by RogerB at 10:36 AM on March 1, 2011


And in line with "politicians are corrupt", "marxism is terrible", "LOLLibertarians" and other broad-brush dismissals of ideologies, or the idea of having an ideaology.

Most of those are conversational dead ends as well.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:37 AM on March 1, 2011


So do you think it's unproductive for people to talk about the positives of organized religion, or, to use your conceptual framework, "vote" for its continued existence?

Yes, generally speaking. (Of course, there's a natural asymmetry between arguing for something's existence and its nonexistence, especially in the context of a religious group that's been on the receiving end for centuries of attempts to actually put that vote for nonexistence into practice. There's always going to be a little red flag when someone says something to the effect of "Yeah, this [particular thing related to Judaism] sure is awful; what the world really needs is the end of Judaism." I don't think there's an equivalent "Yay religion!" comment someone could make that would raise the same alarm bells, unless again it had the implication of eliminating something else.)

But I think the larger point here is that throwing around overgeneral opinions is just intellectually lazy. You said earlier that "The biggest issue with criticizing organized religion as a concept is that people assume that you... Know nothing about various religions or that there is more than one religion." Well, the reason people think that is that your "criticisms" haven't given them any basis to think otherwise. Imagine if all of Roger Ebert's movie reviews were just "This movie sucks; all movies suck" or "This movie is awesome; movies are awesome." You might get a small nugget of information from that I guess, but it's so much better if the opinion is contextualized and fleshed out with particular reasons. It's what makes an argument persuasive and what, I would like to think, makes Metafilter different from the rest of the Internet. I can get plenty of Team Religion vs. Team Atheism back-and-forth elsewhere. In other words, if you want to use a thread like the Nice Jewish Girl one to criticize religion, at least critique it from a position of understanding, or in a way that makes clear (1) that you know what you're talking about, and (2) how your criticism pertains to the issue at hand. And, yeah, I'd say the same no matter what the opinion was that was being expressed.
posted by albrecht at 10:43 AM on March 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


> if you want to use a thread like the Nice Jewish Girl one to criticize religion, at least critique it from a position of understanding

Ah, but see many of the RELIGION IS TERRIBLE people here don't really seem to think that details matter, since RELIGION IS TERRIBLE so why should I bother to drill down into specifics?
posted by Burhanistan at 10:46 AM on March 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


In fairness, they seem to be in the minority now, and even people who are critical of religion in a more nuanced way as a whole don't seem so quick to jump into just any discussion and make that criticism the subject unless it is really justified. The tone of MetaFilter feels as though is has changed quite a lot in this regard.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:51 AM on March 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's not about getting a pass, it's about having a respectful conversation. I don't get all aggro about aspects of your lifestyle I find objectionable. Why should you be able to do that to me?
posted by valkyryn at 1:22 PM on March 1 [2 favorites +]


No, it's about getting a pass.

It's about getting religious opinion ring-fenced and treated differently to other forms of opinion, such as political opinion. When we see someone mocked or satirised for being a communist we don't start banging on about how awful and disrespectful it is (or at least, most of us don't). Yet time and time again we see even the mildest forms of verbal criticism of religious belief result in a festival of hurt feelings and demands for "respect".

Fuck. That.

Religion kills and harms and hinders human progress in countless ways, and - as in the instance highlighted by this post - it maims lives, and that is not worthy of respect. And it is perfectly appropriate to deny it respect where relevant to do so, as it was here.
posted by Decani at 11:07 AM on March 1, 2011 [9 favorites]


such as political opinion. When we see someone mocked or satirised for being a communist we don't start banging on about how awful and disrespectful it is (or at least, most of us don't).

Cite?
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:15 AM on March 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


> I've long said that Woody Allen informs more of my Jewish identity than Moses.
>
>> A Jewish friend said something similar to me years ago. Very insightful, but it fucking
>> ruined "The Ten Commandments" for me.
>> posted by ob at 11:37 AM on March 1 [+] [!]

I felt the same way, but then I noticed Zelig in the crowd scene in the 1923 version which kind of redeemed it for me.
posted by jfuller at 11:17 AM on March 1, 2011


Religion kills and harms and hinders human progress in countless ways

Religion doesn't do that; people do.
posted by banshee at 11:36 AM on March 1, 2011 [5 favorites]


I've expressed this sentiment already a few times in various forms here, but I guess what I'd really like everyone with an anti-religion beef to stop and think about for a second is what tangible impact they think their opinions should or can have.

Like I've said many times before, no one holds religion (or, frankly, anything else) to this standard. I've seen many generalized "hurrah for religion/my religion" comments which were treated respectfully by others, including me, despite being overgeneral and potentially insulting to those who aren't religious; it gets a little tiring being told in return that "details matter" and "throwing around overgeneral opinions is just intellectually lazy" and "you can never really connect with someone on a personal level if you're so willing to just disregard a whole system of thought that's intimately bound up with the way they live their life" when I choose to speak against religion. Likewise, overgeneral attacks against "new atheists" seem to be a staple on the site these days (see above), yet no one seems to have a problem with disregarding that whole system of thought that's intimately bound up with the way many mefites live their lives.

I think it's obvious that the issue here is anti-religious thought itself, not "details" or "generalizations" or "tone". I learned the last time we had this discussion that no amount of details, nuance, or politeness will please those who believe that religion is inherently beyond criticism, yet always within reach of acceptance or praise.
posted by vorfeed at 11:44 AM on March 1, 2011 [10 favorites]


When we see someone mocked or satirised for being a communist we don't start banging on about how awful and disrespectful it is (or at least, most of us don't).

Cite?
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:15 PM on March 1


You want me to cite an example of someone not banging on about disrespect when communism gets satirised? How's that going to work, exactly? My view is based on a wide range of observations about the different ways people tend to respond to political as opposed to religious satire and criticism. For example, I don't recall the last time there were protests on the streets, death threats and actual violent attacks as a result of a purely political cartoon (ie one with no religious element). Do you? Both you and I can play the "Here's an individual anecdote that refutes your position" game if you like, but I think we're both smarter than that.

Let's see if I can illustrate the point another way. Let's try to re-write the comment of bardic's that Valkyryn took such exception to, but to tweak it to contain political, rather than religious criticism. I shall bold the bits of bardic's post I change. Here goes:

"You should respect this woman's pain"

I do, absolutely. Misogynistic conservative political views (which Valkyryn so preciously and euphemistically labels as "pre-Modern") have failed this woman terribly. She has internalized an inherently sexist viewpoint of her own potential and self-worth -- that she is worthless without acquiescing to the traditional gender roles proposed by the Conservative Party.

That's fucked up, and the sooner such retrograde social conservatism dies off the better. But let's start with the ultra-conservatives first, the ones that truly hate women. (And by extension, convince men that they have a right to treat women like pieces of furniture at best.)

"Even people in entirely liberal paradigms are finding it increasingly difficult to achieve their concept of relationship success."

Of course they are. Finding love is really hard to do. Doing so with the ass-backwards prejudices of a pack of hidebound right-wingers clinging to ancient and outdated traditions much more so.


Now, do you really mean to suggest that this sort of thing would, in general cause the sort of reaction Valkyryn gave to bardic's original post? Do you really think it would have been described as "Serious anti-conservative aggression"? And if it had been so described, do you think there wouldn't have been plenty of voices telling the person who responded thus to calm down and stop being hysterical? Because if you honestly do think so, then you and I are not seeing the same reality.
posted by Decani at 11:45 AM on March 1, 2011 [5 favorites]


" I don't think there's an equivalent "Yay religion!" comment someone could make that would raise the same alarm bells, unless again it had the implication of eliminating something else."

What about the massive and ongoing attempts by many organized religions and their believers to persecute "sexual deviants", loose women, heretics, those of other religions, athiests, and heathens? What about the way that religious beliefs and practices were forced on indigenous people as part of a colonial drive to wipe their culture out completely? If a general anti-organized religion comment can be taken as a reference to the historical persecution of Jews, can a general pro-organized religion comment be taken as a reference to the historical persecution of any number of peoples, including my ancestors and people with my lifestyle and beliefs?
posted by the young rope-rider at 11:53 AM on March 1, 2011 [5 favorites]


don't recall the last time there were protests on the streets, death threats and actual violent attacks as a result of a purely political cartoon (ie one with no religious element). Do you?

Sure.

Listen, I have no problem with anyone taking issue with the specific of a religion. There was a pretty strong consensus that the particular Orthodox world she was in was bad for her. I don't even care if you believe that religion is a force for evil in the world. But there is a difference between what you quoted above, which you tweaked to be specific ("conservative party"), and the blanket statement "all religion is bad no matter what."

Maybe it is. Maybe it isn't. But it's a hell of a lot larger of a discussion than "this specific aspect of one religion is problematic," and pushing it into the larger discussion is just as obnoxious as an anarchist entering every single discussion about politics and screaming ALL GOVERNMENT EVERYWHERE IS BAD.

And nobody is asking for special protection for religion here, you crybabies. There was plenty of criticism of Orthodox Judaism, and nobody said that shouldn't happen at all. And my first comment opened by denying the existence of god and then went on to call the people who enforce ancient outdated law dipshits.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:56 AM on March 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


" I don't think there's an equivalent "Yay religion!" comment someone could make that would raise the same alarm bells, unless again it had the implication of eliminating something else."

Guess you haven't been paying attention to the US legislature recently.
posted by fuq at 11:57 AM on March 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Er, my second comment, rather.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:58 AM on March 1, 2011


overgeneral attacks against "new atheists" seem to be a staple on the site these days (see above)

I think maybe you're misunderstanding what that (capitalized) phrase means and should look at the Wikipedia article. It's basically just a synonym for "Ditchkins," not some more general statement about small-a atheism. I know I'm not the only dyed-in-the-wool unbeliever here who thinks Ditchkins is/are full of shit; discussions of the New Atheists around here almost invariably involve a lot of atheists on the con side as well as the pro. In fact, that they persistently mistake all their opposition for believers is one of the most irritating things about fans of the New Atheists.
posted by RogerB at 11:58 AM on March 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


And nobody is asking for special protection for religion here, you crybabies.

For an argument about tone, this is a somewhat obnoxious way to dismiss other people's legitimate concerns.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:00 PM on March 1, 2011 [4 favorites]


I would agree, if I though their concerns were legitimate. But they aren't. They are claiming they are being silenced, through an undeserving request for civility, when they are not, and these claims are repeatedly made and never backed up. If somebody cries crocodile tears, I need to be able to call them what they are.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:05 PM on March 1, 2011


It's basically just a synonym for "Ditchkins," not some more general statement about small-a atheism.

Yes, I understand that. However, it is not always used that way on this site... nor does it matter much. When you attack "the New Atheist brigade", you attack many people on mefi who agree with Dawkins and/or Hitchens, and you attack them largely for being against religion. That was my point.
posted by vorfeed at 12:07 PM on March 1, 2011


If a general anti-organized religion comment can be taken as a reference to the historical persecution of Jews, can a general pro-organized religion comment be taken as a reference to the historical persecution of any number of peoples, including my ancestors and people with my lifestyle and beliefs?

Sure, and if someone in a discussion about the problems of some indigenous population were to say something like "What these people need is to believe in CHRIST. Christianity is so GREAT!", of course that would quite reasonably upset a lot of people. I'm not sure what exactly you're getting at here. Overgeneralization is bad (in the sense of being facile and unproductive) no matter what the context is, but it's especially bad (in the sense of being disrespectful and offensive) when it starts hitting exposed nerves that people develop over a lifetime of having to defend themselves. That goes for both sides of the Atheist/Theist debate, and I say that as someone who's been both.

I think jessamyn said it best in this thread (which should be required reading for all Mefites):
I want people to make an effort to not make the same shitty derails they always do. Overgeneralizing about religion is no more appropriate than overgeneralizing about nationality, race, sexual orientation, or gender. I'm aware that someone's religious preferences are a choice and not something you're born with, but as a corollary these sorts of broad brush indictments are just as shitty when people use them against people of a certain nationality or US state citizenship. We should do less of the 'Fuck Texans/Christians/Americans' than we currently do on this site.
Now compare that with, e.g., this statement from Decani: "Religion kills and harms and hinders human progress in countless ways... and that is not worthy of respect." On what basis can anyone decide what effect religion as a whole has on human progress? It's just such a ridiculous thing to even imagine doing. What do you do, count up all the pluses and minuses? (What tests do I, as a religious person, need to pass in order to earn respect, then? Show that my religious community is "one of the good ones" that doesn't subjugate women or gays or ethnic minorities?) You know what else harms and hinders human progress in countless ways? Art, science, love, Nature, humanity in general, and the color orange. Throw them all out and start over, I say.
posted by albrecht at 12:39 PM on March 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


I would agree, if I though their concerns were legitimate. But they aren't.

One could just as easily say this with regards to people upset about negative comments about religion. "Legitimate" is in the eye of the beholder, as are "valid", "civil", "ignorant", and all the other words used to paint just one side of the argument as acceptable.

BP is right -- you want "tone" and "civility" and an atmosphere of respect for the beliefs of others, but you refuse to give these same things to anyone who speaks counter to your assumptions, no matter how reasonably. There's always some excuse, some failure of theirs that makes them "bigoted" and "ignorant", and there's always a great reason for you to jump in and "call them what they are", while simultaneously demanding that they stop "insulting" people.

Crocodile tears indeed.
posted by vorfeed at 12:43 PM on March 1, 2011 [5 favorites]


On what basis can anyone decide what effect religion as a whole has on human progress?

As I understand it, +1 gold and a line of sight to each city where it has spread?
posted by DNye at 12:44 PM on March 1, 2011 [6 favorites]


Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace

posted by empath at 12:45 PM on March 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ah, you have me. I should have been more respectful.

After all, this was a thread that started with a question about somebody identifying another member as a Jew and linking to his profile, as well as linking to an entirely unrelated image of a Jewish comedienne in a t-shirt. That user was given a week off. The it became a very brief discussion about the tone of another user who went into a thread about something specific and made it about something general, with users asking that people focus their discussion on the specific, and try to be as educated as possible. And then some users came in and said, well, fuck all that, religion is bad and how come it gets to ask for special treatment, and we can't say anything negative at all about religion without getting shouted down!

I'm sorry, but that was a disingenuous turn at the end, not justified by what came before it, or what happened in the original thread. It's not a complaint based on actual behavior.

You're playing a game of false equivalence here.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:51 PM on March 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Astro Zombie: "I would agree, if I though their concerns were legitimate. But they aren't. They are claiming they are being silenced, through an undeserving request for civility, when they are not, and these claims are repeatedly made and never backed up. If somebody cries crocodile tears, I need to be able to call them what they are."

I think you're better off doing so without calling people names.

Escalating rudeness won't solve anything here. Nor will meeting disrespect with same. Civility needs to be a two way street, especially in a discussion on a topic that tends to be this volatile.
posted by zarq at 12:54 PM on March 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


Perhaps you are right. I retract the crybabies.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:55 PM on March 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


I know that I as a teacher and (I believe) my husband as a public defender and certainly myself as a Christian have avoided various threads either because we felt that we it wouldn't be worth it or because we'd come off as fighty or axe-grindy because we were talking about something that's very important to us.

I don't post on the Blue for this reason. I skim the page for the interesting links, and occasionally read comments, but anything that seems like it might go in a remotely Jewy direction, I just avoid. I know once I started I'd be glued to that page for hours a day, attempting vainly to explain things to, and refute the half-educated assertions of, and fight with, people who've decided for whatever reason to make this tiny minority group the primary focus of their online vitriol. I've done it on other sites, and I have the utmost respect for people who continue to do it, but for me I realized it's not worth the time or the stress and it never leads anywhere anyway. So while I was glad to see the link to Nice Jewish Girl's blog, which I'd read before and found fascinating but forgotten about, I was unwilling to click the "more inside" because I knew where it would probably go.

To my mind the unfortunate thing about this obsession with religion, and Jews, and religion and Jews, is that so often it distracts from the universal truth of someone's particular situation. In this case I think it's this:

"How innocent I was, how stupid, not to realize that no matter how "religious" a man may seem on the outside...if you are not pretty enough nothing else matters, not really, not in dating."

This is the same if you take out "religious" and put in "smart," "well-meaning," "open-minded," whatever. I think very many unpretty unmarried women over, say, 30, would agree, and that this is very much worth discussing. Nice Jewish Girl probably wouldn't think of that, and I wouldn't expect her to, living as she (presumably) does in a mostly Orthodox world. But I'm an unaffiliated athiest who's not remotely frum or shomer negiah, and I relate to this. I too wish someone had clued me in when I was much younger. It seems to me that the dating/marriage customs of Orthodox Jews (I've spoken to and been around them, though never on a deep level) work very well for those people who "fit in," and much less well for the others. Exactly like the dating/marriage customs for everyone else, religious or not, Jewish or not.

I apologize if someone else in that FPP brought up this very same point. I know I should read the comments over there before I post this, but I can't today. Today I'm just Galliano'd and Charlie Sheen'd and President of Yemen'd out.
posted by DestinationUnknown at 12:59 PM on March 1, 2011 [5 favorites]


I flagged the hell out of uncanny hengeman's comments and I don't think that all religion is inherently bad, but there is a huge double standard when it comes to pro- and anti-religious speech.

Especially irritating when I see someone like, say, valkyryn, who has advocated against gay marriage in the past because of his religion, sitting around acting like his religion never hurt anybody and mean old athiests get aggro about his lifestyle whereas he just leaves everyone alone. Yeah fucking right. Bigotry like that hides behind this generalized and constant demand that criticism of religion has to be toned down, muted, phrased correctly, and accompanied by a degree in theology, and it's bullshit.
posted by the young rope-rider at 1:02 PM on March 1, 2011 [16 favorites]


I don't post on the Blue for this reason. I skim the page for the interesting links, and occasionally read comments, but anything that seems like it might go in a remotely Jewy direction, I just avoid. I know once I started I'd be glued to that page for hours a day, attempting vainly to explain things to, and refute the half-educated assertions of, and fight with, people who've decided for whatever reason to make this tiny minority group the primary focus of their online vitriol.

Every thread about Catholicism goes the same way. And Scientology. And Mormons.
posted by empath at 1:05 PM on March 1, 2011


(and atheists, really)
posted by empath at 1:05 PM on March 1, 2011


I'm okay with criticizing religions in general and religions in particular as long as its on topic, honestly argued and hopefully well-informed. Making fun or attacking particular religious beliefs or practices is kind of over the line to me, unless it's relevant to the discussion.

I don't think there's anything particularly offensive about saying, okay, this particular practice is bad, but all religions engage in equally bad practices and the world would be better off without any of them. Unless making everyone who was happy piling on to orthodox jews get defensive about their own religious practice is a problem.
posted by empath at 1:11 PM on March 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Now compare that with, e.g., this statement from Decani: "Religion kills and harms and hinders human progress in countless ways... and that is not worthy of respect." On what basis can anyone decide what effect religion as a whole has on human progress? It's just such a ridiculous thing to even imagine doing.

The idea that religion is generally a negative thing seems ridiculous to you, and to many others. Likewise, the idea that religion is generally a neutral or positive thing seems ridiculous to Decani, and to many others. Yet only one side of the argument is told that they are disrespectful, offensive, and mustn't speak. That dynamic hits plenty of "exposed nerves that people develop over a lifetime of having to defend themselves".

Besides, capitalism is a vast subject with a thousand different manifestations, as are democracy, individualism, authoritarianism, and agriculture, yet many people who know plenty about these things manage to come to some conclusion as to what effect they've had on human progress. Hell, "human progress" is itself an incredibly subjective concept; on what basis can anyone decide that there is such a thing, much less which social forces can be seen to have a negative (note: another incredibly subjective concept) effect on it? Yet we all do so, every single day, and most of us welcome that kind of exploration and argument.

I've seen people speak quite generally about how plenty of things harm and hinder human progress on this site -- to borrow a few of your examples, our ideas about science, love, and humanity in general are up for grabs on mefi. There are plenty of people here who are generally anti-science, anti-human, and even anti-love, at least when it comes to the way these are conceptualized in our society. And that's a good thing, because without such voices, society never changes... and that goes for both mefi-society and the larger society.

In short: the idea that people cannot possibly be against religion in a nuanced way is... well, not very nuanced. This is a self-fulfilling prophecy which sets up neutrality as the only reasonable option, even though neutrality-in-this-one-case is itself a subjective judgment which has little to do with reason.
posted by vorfeed at 1:40 PM on March 1, 2011 [6 favorites]


In short: the idea that people cannot possibly be against religion in a nuanced way is... well, not very nuanced.

I am curious as to who has said that. Perhaps it was in this thread. I missed it and, going back, can't seem to find it.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:42 PM on March 1, 2011


In short: the idea that people cannot possibly be against religion in a nuanced way is... well, not very nuanced

Read my comment. I explicitly said that I understand there are people around here who don't like religion and that I don't mind them expressing that. I just mind it when they're dicks about it, and I thought bardic was being a dick.

That's all.
posted by valkyryn at 1:49 PM on March 1, 2011


If somebody cries crocodile tears, I need to be able to call them what they are.

In a thread not so long ago, I expressed fair but unapologetic disagreement with a user getting away with calling someone else here a bigot for being an atheist.

It was a way to bully another user, it was a shitty thing to do, and I called this bully out for doing it.

In response to defending that atheist from bullying, I, too, was called a bigot, in turn.

I had not expressed any view about religion, but I had defended an atheist and was therefore labeled a bigot.

The majority of the community who participated in that Metatalk thread leapt in and joined in on the pile-on on this atheist, as well as myself.

I don't much respect that bully's contributions here any longer.

I no longer take seriously the notion that religion isn't a protected subject here — it most certainly is, and certain people — they know who they are — know how to press the community's buttons to get everyone to bully a non-believer.

I don't much respect the bullies who favorited that person's accusations.

Finally, I no longer respect that "call them what they are" tactic.

That kind of language and thinking is lazy.

I have used that language myself in the past and I regret it. It did nothing but make me look foolish.

If you care whether someone like me takes your comments seriously, then please think about whether this tactic of yours helps this discussion or helps defend your point of view.

Don't be a bully. Personally, I think you're a better contributor than that.

Otherwise, if you don't really care what I think, then carry on.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:16 PM on March 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


I have retracted my crybaby comment already. As to my use of crocodile tears, I don't know. I do not think the people here who are claiming they are somehow being oppressed have demonstrated their claim. I think what's happening is that a standard of behavior is slowly getting established, and it precludes just using threads about atheism as a sounding board for generalized anti-religious sentiment. That didn't especially happen here, and it certainly didn't happen in the original thread -- when I last checked VikingSword's comment that teaching children religion was akin to child abuse was challenged as an argument, not as being something he should have said at all, perhaps because, although coming from a somewhat extreme position, it was actually on-topic. And nobody said peep to me when I said there was no God.

Perhaps the people who think they are being silenced really do believe that. But, since we're discussing this thread, and the one that inspired it, it comes off as being a bit exaggerated. I suppose the phrase "crocodile tears" ascribes motive, in that it suggests they are knowingly working the ref. Maybe they aren't. I shall try to think of a better phrase.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:22 PM on March 1, 2011


threads about religion, rather.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:23 PM on March 1, 2011


But, since we're discussing this thread, and the one that inspired it, it comes off as being a bit exaggerated.

Before using the rhetoric of bullies, maybe rethink whether your opinion can be defended on its own merits without such language.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:30 PM on March 1, 2011


In short: the idea that people cannot possibly be against religion in a nuanced way is... well, not very nuanced.
I am curious as to who has said that. Perhaps it was in this thread. I missed it and, going back, can't seem to find it.


"Now compare that with, e.g., this statement from Decani: 'Religion kills and harms and hinders human progress in countless ways... and that is not worthy of respect.' On what basis can anyone decide what effect religion as a whole has on human progress? It's just such a ridiculous thing to even imagine doing."

This seems to imply that being against religion (i.e. believing that it is negative in general, or that it generally "harms and hinders human progress") is "ridiculous" in and of itself, no matter what reason people might have for it.

valkyryn: I wasn't talking about you, but frankly, the idea that "telling people you think that the traditions around which they have organized their life need to die off as quickly as possible does not strike me as being particularly civil" is hilarious coming from you. You've done that very thing to liberal Christians, and while I have no particular problem with that (I even agreed with you in that thread!), you can't be all AGAINST YOU AND EVERYTHING YOU STAND FOR on the one hand and then suggest that the same is a lack of "civility" the minute someone says it about your beliefs.
posted by vorfeed at 2:32 PM on March 1, 2011


Well, I shall remember that when I actually use the rhetoric of bullies. I am attempting to treat your comments respectfully, as I know they are meant in earnest, but we are not children and this is not the playground. A strong word choice here or there about somebody's specific behavior is not the same thing as stealing their lunch money, and has not fallen into a territory where people are rendered helpless. If I were to change my mind about using crocodile tears, it would be because the word was not precise, not because it was bullying. I do not believe it was.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:34 PM on March 1, 2011


This seems to imply that being against religion (i.e. believing that it is negative in general, or that it generally "harms and hinders human progress") is "ridiculous" in and of itself, no matter what reason people might have for it.

Respectfully, that's a lot to read into one comment in the entire thread. It was a response to a specific comment, not a condemnation of religious criticism as a whole. Perhaps it was meant as such, but I am not reading it that way.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:36 PM on March 1, 2011


Especially irritating when I see someone like, say, valkyryn, who has advocated against gay marriage in the past because of his religion

Have I expressed my religious opinions? Sure. Do people find them offensive? Sometimes, I'd wager. But I usually try to make an effort to be measured and calm, and a significant number of people who have disagreed with me strenuously in threads have contacted me saying that they appreciated the conversation despite our disagreement. That, to me, is what MetaFilter is about.

I try to be respectful when I'm talking about issues I know to have hot buttons, and if you or anyone else can find examples where I've failed there I'll apologize in advance. But I don't think there will be very many (or at least I hope there won't), and I don't think it's wrong of me to ask for the same consideration in return.
posted by valkyryn at 2:36 PM on March 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


How's this going for everyone in here?
posted by shakespeherian at 2:41 PM on March 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


Looks like knee-deep quicksand.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:42 PM on March 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


About like you'd expect. I think I'll steer clear of these threads from here on out, and this one specifically from this point on.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:42 PM on March 1, 2011


Blazecock Pileon“I don't much respect that bully's contributions here any longer... I don't much respect the bullies who favorited that person's accusations.”

I remember that conversation; and it didn't seem this simple to me. Yeah, I can imagine how you felt when you were called a bigot; but the 'bully' in question was making a particular and fair point about how things work, a point that was at least argued at length and in a tone that made it clear he was entirely willing to talk about this and wanted to be open to debate. The term "bigot" may have been uncalled for; but it didn't happen in a vacuum. Nobody was put up against a wall. Nobody was spat on or thrown out of the community. In fact, the conversation was characterized by civility; which may be hard to imagine if you count only the word "bigot," but it's really the case.

Regardless, you might mention that the person who made the comment happens to be an atheist, too. And that he was trying to make a broader point about how things work here. In the end, I still agree with what he was trying to say: that the notion that there is some sort of religious privilege here is unfair, and seems to indicate an unhealthy fear of heterogeneous opinions. I don't mind the claim; but the fact is that the notion that there are institutions at work here is an incomplete way to see it. If you want to make that accusation, you've got to point to people who are perpetrating religious privilege; you've got to name names, and say exactly who is doing this and that thing. And I don't think you can.

This is something we can argue about, I guess. But: while I appreciate that it stung to see the word "bigot" connected with your name, I think you should have taken a step back and considered the conversation and its context. I think in this situation, personal feelings have to be set aside. What matters is the truth, and how we feel about the words only gets in the way of that.
posted by koeselitz at 2:44 PM on March 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


re: crocodile tears. I think it is an issue of micro-aggressions. Everyday I go through life and receive many subtle hints that my well-educated, fully-considered value system and epistemology is not only wrong, but hurtful to humanity. Religion is considered the standard and atheists are otherered. It's only been recently that polls indicate that an athiest can be elected or even trusted by a percentage of people, up from 1990's 3% of people considering atheist trustworthy. After a while of many subtle insults by most people I interact with I become bitter. After a while longer, I begin to feel hate. It isn't a rational hate, it is the hate of having my belief system doubted and marginalized in thousands of small ways every day, day after day. So, if you think I'm abrasive, it's your fault if you think that being religious is preferable or better in any way than being non-religious. It is not.
posted by fuq at 2:44 PM on March 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


How's this going for everyone in here?

Gut Yontiff to the pontiff!
posted by fixedgear at 2:45 PM on March 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Have I expressed my religious opinions? Sure. Do people find them offensive? Sometimes, I'd wager. But I usually try to make an effort to be measured and calm,"

Measured and calm bigotry is still bigotry. Calling out other people for using the wrong tone when they criticize your beliefs (which are bigoted) is bullshit.

You're right about one thing, you can say a lot of shit here as long as you're "polite" about it. It's one of the most frustrating things about metafilter--tone is given far too much weight.
posted by the young rope-rider at 2:46 PM on March 1, 2011 [8 favorites]


vorfeed: " In short: the idea that people cannot possibly be against religion in a nuanced way is... well, not very nuanced. This is a self-fulfilling prophecy which sets up neutrality as the only reasonable option, even though neutrality-in-this-one-case is itself a subjective judgment which has little to do with reason."

It goes both ways. The arguments being presented in blanket condemnations of religion are rarely nuanced. They're generally overwrought, hyperbolic rants or indignantly emotional one-liners that proclaim All Religion is Bad and should be Abolished. That then produces predictable defensive reactions from perfectly moderate, tolerant folks who rightfully feel they're being unfairly lumped in with fundamentalist whackjobs. Go figure.
posted by zarq at 2:53 PM on March 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


This is something we can argue about, I guess.

I defended another user and was called a bigot for my troubles. The community joined in. It happened, and the comments on record are what they are, so I don't think there's much gained from "arguing" about it. It is what it is.

I only mean to relate from personal experience the reasons why I would feel that I no longer have a whole lot of confidence in this community's ability to rationally judge the values of atheism or the values of atheist contributors on Metafilter, going specifically to what is happening here in this thread.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:54 PM on March 1, 2011


tone is given far too much weight.

I disagree. I think the emphasis on tone is part of what makes this site as good as it is.
posted by josher71 at 2:55 PM on March 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Blazecock Pileon: “I only mean to relate from personal experience the reasons why I would feel that I no longer have a whole lot of confidence in this community's ability to rationally judge the values of atheism or the values of atheist contributors on Metafilter, going specifically to what is happening here in this thread.”

You're talking about a situation where one atheist called another atheist a bigot. You can hardly claim that the "values of atheism or the values of atheist contributors on Metafilter" were at issue.
posted by koeselitz at 2:57 PM on March 1, 2011


"the notion that there is some sort of religious privilege here is unfair, and seems to indicate an unhealthy fear of heterogeneous opinions."

Why would anyone who had a pathological fear of heterogeneous opinions hang out on metafilter?

Seriously, dude, do you even go here?
posted by the young rope-rider at 2:58 PM on March 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


... and what, specifically, do you think is happening here in this thread, Blazecock Pileon?
posted by koeselitz at 2:59 PM on March 1, 2011


... and what, specifically, do you think is happening here in this thread, Blazecock Pileon?

I think the same kind of bullying rhetoric is being used in this thread as in the previous one, so as to coerce users and direct discussion in specific ways, and it concerns me now for the same reason it bothered me then. Particularly when I see it coming from contributors whose comments I otherwise enjoy reading.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:01 PM on March 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Calling out other people for using the wrong tone when they criticize your beliefs (which are bigoted) is bullshit.

Tone is everything. Everything. I'm not sure how we'd ever have a civil discussion without worrying about that one, basic, fundamental variable. Not only do conversations not go well without attending to it, but I guarantee they will rarely, if ever, win someone over. If someone says they don't care much about winning someone over, that's fine; but they would have to admit then that it's simply about being a sounding board for one's soapbox, and that's pretty damn boring. Perhaps cathartic, but boring.
posted by SpacemanStix at 3:10 PM on March 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


me: "the notion that there is some sort of religious privilege here is unfair, and seems to indicate an unhealthy fear of heterogeneous opinions."

the young rope-rider: “Why would anyone who had a pathological fear of heterogeneous opinions hang out on metafilter? Seriously, dude, do you even go here?”

I think Metafilter is great this way. I think most users are great about respecting the beliefs of others, and the mods are awesome about this. This is one of the few places on the internet where that's true. I am trying to gently disagree with those here (Blazecock Pileon in particular) who have expressed the believe that this isn't so, and that there's a system of privilege in place. I guess that seems like sort of a passive-aggressive way to put it; I don't really know if anybody's afraid of anything, and I'm not an expert on what's healthy. I just mean to say: I disagree. I think it's unfair to say there's religious privilege here.

Blazecock Pileon: “I think the same kind of bullying rhetoric is being used in this thread as in the previous one, so as to coerce users and direct discussion in specific ways, and it concerns me now for the same reason it bothered me then. Particularly when I see it coming from contributors whose comments I otherwise enjoy reading.”

I see what you mean, I think; and I can understand how it could seem like "bullying" when Astro Zombie throws out the epithet "crybabies." (He's since retracted that, but I can understand how that might seem like it when you read it.) However, I think "bullying" ascribes motives here that aren't really fair. Please understand; maybe you don't mean it this way, but the word "bullying" makes it seem like you're saying that Astro Zombie is trying to force his will on others, to coerce them into shutting up, etc. And, having seen him a lot on the site here, having read his contributions for a long time, I have to say that it really doesn't seem that way to me.

I think he was right to retract the word "crybabies." I think it was ill-advised for him to use that word in the first place. (As abrasive and sometimes obnoxious as I am, at least I know that.) But it seems pretty clear to me that he was just frustrated in the moment he said that; he wasn't trying to shut everyone down, and it certainly wasn't part of a concerted pattern of such attempts. I mean, the most obvious demonstration of this is that he's taken the word back and apologized.
posted by koeselitz at 3:10 PM on March 1, 2011 [4 favorites]


Fuck it, Dude. Let's go bowling.
posted by Rory Marinich at 3:12 PM on March 1, 2011 [8 favorites]


In fairness, they seem to be in the minority now, and even people who are critical of religion in a more nuanced way as a whole don't seem so quick to jump into just any discussion and make that criticism the subject unless it is really justified.

It's true. That thread went so much better than any other thread remotely concerning religion that I've come across in the past year or so. It took over 100 comments for someone to bring up the "religious indoctrination is child abuse!" trope and at this point, that's an accomplishment. There certainly was a time when that would have been trotted out by comment 10 and the whole thread would have degraded from there.
posted by sonika at 3:37 PM on March 1, 2011


Christians believe that anybody (including babies, the mentally insane, and those born before 4 BCE to name a few) who doesnt accept Jesus as the Messiah will burn in hell for all eternity.

I guess that makes me all shrill and nasty for pointing it out. Sorry gang. Its us nasty secular humanists who are the real scourge around here.
posted by bardic at 6:10 PM on March 1, 2011


Christians believe that anybody (including babies, the mentally insane, and those born before 4 BCE to name a few) who doesnt accept Jesus as the Messiah will burn in hell for all eternity.

Nah, there are special provisions for babies. All babies go to heaven. Because they're innocent. (I have never encountered a Christian theology that involved babies in hell. Honestly.)

Though how they rationalize the cut-off age on that one, I have no idea.
posted by sonika at 6:15 PM on March 1, 2011


there are special provisions for babies

Sometimes, definitely.
posted by bardic at 6:30 PM on March 1, 2011


VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Benedict XVI has reversed centuries of traditional Roman Catholic teaching on limbo, approving a Vatican report released Friday that says there were "serious" grounds to hope that children who die without being baptized can go to heaven.

"If there's no limbo and we're not going to revert to St. Augustine's teaching that unbaptized infants go to hell, we're left with only one option, namely, that everyone is born in the state of grace," said the Rev. Richard McBrien, professor of theology at the University of Notre Dame.


That is from 2007. What I don't understand is wether unbaptized babies who died before 2007:
a) Went to limbo and are still there.
b) Went to limbo but got transfered to heaven in 2007.
c) Went to heaven and the church was wrong for centuries.
d) There is no such thing as heaven, hell or limbo.
posted by Dr. Curare at 6:30 PM on March 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


Christians believe that anybody (including babies, the mentally insane, and those born before 4 BCE to name a few) who doesnt accept Jesus as the Messiah will burn in hell for all eternity.

Not entirely accurate, and even if true, so what? You don't believe in hell, do you? What they think happens to an imaginary soul in an imaginary afterlife shouldn't matter, should it?

This is angsty 15-year old stuff, and not particularly interesting.
posted by empath at 6:39 PM on March 1, 2011 [4 favorites]


Though how they rationalize the cut-off age on that one, I have no idea.

Some Christians believe in an "age of accountability".
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:40 PM on March 1, 2011


Some Christians recognize that hell isn't a thing in the Bible.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:08 PM on March 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm an agnostic Jew, so I'm not holding myself out as any sort of expert on Christianity, but it seems to me that you have to really not be paying attention in order to think that there's any monolithic Christian position on whether non-believers are going to burn in Hell. "Christians have serious theological disputes about matters of salvation" seems to me to be one of those basic cultural literacy things that everyone ought to know, regardless of their personal religious views or lack thereof.
posted by craichead at 8:34 PM on March 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


All babies go to heaven.


All dogs go to heaven. Hell is for children.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 8:57 PM on March 1, 2011


A pagan ruined my potluck once.
posted by klangklangston at 10:53 PM on March 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


Deleted a bunch of comments, gave uncanny hengeman the week off.

See I never understood this. I always thought it was "henchmen". The more you know. The more you know.
posted by hal_c_on at 11:43 PM on March 1, 2011


.
posted by girih knot at 1:49 AM on March 2, 2011


ActingTheGoat: "All dogs go to heaven. Hell is for children."

All dogs go to heaven.
posted by zarq at 3:45 AM on March 2, 2011


Heaven is a place.
posted by Sailormom at 4:08 AM on March 2, 2011


23,617,337 views for this little slice of Heaven...
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:21 AM on March 2, 2011


On what basis can anyone decide what effect religion as a whole has on human progress?

As I understand it, +1 gold and a line of sight to each city where it has spread?


Yeah, but there's only an espionage benefit if you control the holy city and are playing without the expansion pack. Otherwise, it's just a source of income and a wedge that you can use to force your more militaristic shared-religion allies to wage war on the nonbelievers while you cherrypick your friends in the UN, start small & quick wars of aggression to take out major population centers near your borders, and colonize every bit of unsettled land you can find to bolster your population for the upcoming Secretary-General vote.

Actually, the entire mess in the middle east suddenly makes total sense when you realize Netanyahu has been playing for a diplomatic win the entire time.

Now I have a Modern Armor. Ho ho ho.
posted by Mayor West at 5:21 AM on March 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


I try to be respectful when I'm talking about issues I know to have hot buttons, and if you or anyone else can find examples where I've failed there I'll apologize in advance.

"I think Mr. Murphy can expect a warrant for his arrest and an extradition order in the next few days with PMITA prison in the near future" was a spectacularly shitty thing to write--especially by an attorney--and despite the removal of a remark that described this as "slavering for Murphy's rape" that's how it sounds. So you can see why pleas for civility seem a bit rich to me.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:36 AM on March 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


Atheists believe that anybody (including Universalists, Unitarians, and those so theologically liberal enough that they don't believe in Hell) who accepts Jesus as the Messiah is a bigot who wants other people to burn in hell for all eternity.

I guess that makes me all shrill and nasty for pointing it out. Sorry gang. Its us Christians who are the real scourge around here.
posted by charred husk at 6:48 AM on March 2, 2011


At the beginning and the end of every day we are all MeFites.

Except for that one guy. He's a MeFought.
posted by Sailormom at 7:02 AM on March 2, 2011


Atheists believe that anybody (including Universalists, Unitarians, and those so theologically liberal enough that they don't believe in Hell) who accepts Jesus as the Messiah is a bigot who wants other people to burn in hell for all eternity.

I kinda get where you're going with this... except that atheists wanting *other* people to burn in hell makes no sense because they don't believe in hell. Yeah, there's a faction of atheists who believe that Christians are bigoted, but even if they invoke hell in a heated argument, what they really mean is "I hope you rot into nothingness when you die because this life is all you get and you're not a special snowflake enjoying heaven with your sky wizard."

Unless, of course, there are atheists who think that there's no afterlife for them personally, but that others will indeed burn in hell, in which case they make no sense and should try remedial logic before attempting theology.
posted by sonika at 8:03 AM on March 2, 2011


If we'd only emulate valkyryn's special brand of "PMITA" civility, we'd all be able to start massive derails!
posted by defenestration at 8:14 AM on March 2, 2011


Rory Marinich: “Fuck it, Dude. Let's go bowling.”

I'm not sure he wants a whole lot of handwringing, but I guess here it is: Rory disabled his account right after he made this comment. I guess he went bowling.

If anybody has his email address, I'd appreciate it if they'd memail it to me. I'd sent him mine, but I don't really know if he got it before disabling.
posted by koeselitz at 8:16 AM on March 2, 2011


sonika: " I kinda get where you're going with this... except that atheists wanting *other* people to burn in hell makes no sense because they don't believe in hell. Yeah, there's a faction of atheists who believe that Christians are bigoted, but even if they invoke hell in a heated argument, what they really mean is "I hope you rot into nothingness when you die because this life is all you get and you're not a special snowflake enjoying heaven with your sky wizard.""

Um. I think what charred husk was saying was that atheists believe Christians are bigots that want everyone who isn't a Christian to burn in hell.

Anyway, it was a riff off bardic's hyperbolically simplistic rant, posted earlier in this thread.
posted by zarq at 8:23 AM on March 2, 2011


Rory disabled his account right after he made this comment.

Well, fuck.
posted by Devils Rancher at 9:10 AM on March 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Rory is taking some time off the site because he wants to focus more on IRL stuff. Also he's reading 2666 which is a full-time job, besides his being in school and stuff. I don't know if he'll be back or not.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:16 AM on March 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


I hope he will be! He's a punk kid with eloquence, making the site an all around better place when he's here. On the other hand, time off for winning at life is probably a good thing. I'm sure he'll come back with some excellent stories. He better be.
posted by stoneweaver at 9:24 AM on March 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Shit. :( Hope you come back soon, Rory.
posted by zarq at 9:55 AM on March 2, 2011


Man and he's so nice too. I totally talked about his personal life just now without asking him first and then he declined to punch me through the internet. Crazy!
posted by shakespeherian at 9:56 AM on March 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure he wants a whole lot of handwringing, but I guess here it is: Rory disabled his account right after he made this comment. I guess he went bowling.

:(
posted by girih knot at 10:04 AM on March 2, 2011


The other day I set up a new Vimeo account. When it showed me the stream of people's activity in the spot where my friends' activity would be if I had any, the top couple updates were from one Mr Rory Marinich. No foolin'.

AND NOW HE'S GONE
posted by jtron at 10:51 AM on March 2, 2011


Christians believe...

Not all Christians do. That is like saying Americans believe, or Dress makers believe...

There are A LOT of very liberal Christians who hold little to no truck with Hell as a valid concept. I would wager quite a bit that the majority of Christians pick and choose what they want to believe in from different Christian sources, as most people of various faiths (or not) do.
posted by edgeways at 11:04 AM on March 2, 2011


Also hoping Rory comes back.

We need more sane people!
posted by nangar at 11:48 AM on March 2, 2011


Just for the record, I think bardic's comment was fine, even though I disagree with a lot of what he said. He was expressing his opinion about something (and MeFites should get to do that) without crossing over into personal attacks or ethnic bigotry.

There's a big difference between that and 'hey, there's Jewish people on the site, let's get 'em.'
posted by nangar at 12:08 PM on March 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


> We need more sane people!

Oh, I like Rory just fine but I don't know if "sane" is the first adjective that springs to mind.

Besides, we should all full well know by now that they all come back, they all come back. This is Hotel MetaFornia here. It's silly to make a fuss about a user taking a break.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:21 PM on March 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


nangar: " There's a big difference between that and 'hey, there's Jewish people on the site, let's get 'em.'"

FWIW, that's not how I interpreted uncanny's comments.

Perhaps that's naive. I should get a badger.
posted by zarq at 12:23 PM on March 2, 2011


Burhanistan: " Besides, we should all full well know by now that they all come back, they all come back. This is Hotel MetaFornia here. It's silly to make a fuss about a user taking a break."

dnab... bunnycup... Optimus... They don't all come back.
posted by zarq at 12:24 PM on March 2, 2011


> dnab... bunnycup... Optimus... They don't all come back.

One was banned, I don't know about the middle, and the other came back and left again. Still, it's a good bet we'll see Rory again.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:27 PM on March 2, 2011


dnab... bunnycup... Optimus... They don't all come back.

All of those people left and came back and left again at least once.

And to be honest, when some people leave for a much needed break, it's a good thing for all concerned. Anyone who leaves of their own volition is welcome back at any time. If you're worried someone from MeFi may leave and not leave any forwarding address, I'd suggest getting ahold of them pre-leave so you can get in touch with them if they take some time off.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:35 PM on March 2, 2011


Burhanistan: " One was banned, I don't know about the middle, and the other came back and left again. Still, it's a good bet we'll see Rory again."

To the best of my knowledge, none of them have been banned. Per cortex in the Mayor Curley MeTa thread, Optimus is free to return of his own accord.

I wasn't trying to turn this into a long discussion, but whether they came back in the past or not is not my point. At the moment, it certainly seems as if none of those three have any interest in returning again.
posted by zarq at 12:42 PM on March 2, 2011


Well, dnab and bunnycup, at least. I have no idea about OC.
posted by zarq at 12:44 PM on March 2, 2011


And dirtynumbangelboy was definitely banned and did not leave of his own accord, for what it's worth.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:54 PM on March 2, 2011


I too hope Rory comes back, if he's checking.
posted by languagehat at 1:14 PM on March 2, 2011


jessamyn: "And dirtynumbangelboy was definitely banned and did not leave of his own accord, for what it's worth."

I'm having a very surreal moment. Just read through dnab's history.

I was under the impression that dnab left last January in a huff, vowing never to return -- and that was it.

But lo and behold, he returned last May. We actually both contributed to the Palindrome thread and I didn't notice him. And I guess he was banned in July after that disastrous copyright thread.

Thanks for clarifying. I had no idea.
posted by zarq at 1:30 PM on March 2, 2011


I like Rory, and hope he's out bowling.
posted by Wolof at 1:46 PM on March 2, 2011


I wish The Straightener would make a come back.
posted by josher71 at 2:42 PM on March 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Now compare that with, e.g., this statement from Decani: 'Religion kills and harms and hinders human progress in countless ways... and that is not worthy of respect.' On what basis can anyone decide what effect religion as a whole has on human progress? It's just such a ridiculous thing to even imagine doing."
This seems to imply that being against religion (i.e. believing that it is negative in general, or that it generally "harms and hinders human progress") is "ridiculous" in and of itself, no matter what reason people might have for it.

In short: the idea that people cannot possibly be against religion in a nuanced way is... well, not very nuanced. This is a self-fulfilling prophecy which sets up neutrality as the only reasonable option, even though neutrality-in-this-one-case is itself a subjective judgment which has little to do with reason.


I feel like I need to clarify what I said, because I think a few people may be misinterpreting my comments to mean I think it's ridiculous to have any negative feelings about religion, or that I think religion should be off-limits as a topic of conversation on Metafilter, neither of which is true.

I certainly don't think "people cannot possibly be against religion in a nuanced way." In fact, what I most want out of these conversations is for the people who criticize religion to have a greater appreciation for nuance! My whole point, succinctly, is that taking every thread related to religion as an invitation to drop a generic snarky comment about "invisible sky monsters" or whatever is a shitty thing to do, for all parties involved; it adds nothing to the conversation, persuades exactly no one, and shows disrespect for the members of the community who feel a personal attachment to the story or idea being discussed. The only thing it accomplishes is pissing people off and derailing the conversation (which is probably the idea). I agree with those who say the situation has gotten somewhat better, but I actually think it's because the mods have gotten more aggressive about deleting these comments as soon as they get made. It still seems like all you have do to, for example, is say the word "Jewish" in an FPP and suddenly the thread is a referendum on Judaism. I know I'm pretty much done, personally, with even participating in these threads, because it's just too much work to constantly explain to people that their criticisms are based on dramatically oversimplified assumptions that they could fix in 5 minutes of wikipedia reading if they cared to. It's not about needing a "degree in theology"; it's about knowing what you're talking about before you start spouting off, if for no other reason than to make your arguments more effective. But this (admittedly small) group of people don't care because they're more interested in being snarky and aggressive and clever than exposing themselves to the possibility of seeing things from another perspective.

Let's take science as a comparable example. Imagine there was a post about some new scientific development, like the one that vorfeed linked to earlier, and someone commented that "We should get rid of science. Science is bad for humanity." You'd really want them to clarify what they meant and why it was relevant to the topic at hand, wouldn't you? And if their only response was "Science kills people; think of all the people killed by the atomic bomb," you'd think that was a pretty narrow and reductive view of science as a whole, wouldn't you? Now imagine the exact same scenario being played out over and over again in every thread related to science: there's a post about genetics or semiconductors or giant squid or whatever and one of the first five comments is always "Hiroshima 1945. NEVER FORGET." Wouldn't you get tired of that? Imagine that you're a scientist, you've spent your whole career researching some disease, there's an FPP about it, and there's an immediate flood of comments saying "Again with these fucking scientists. I hate science so much!", etc.. Wouldn't you take it personally? And I'm not saying people can't or shouldn't have those feelings, just that expressing them in a such dismissive, knee-jerk fashion and refusing to engage with the particular topic is lazy and disrespectful. There's a world of difference between that and saying that everyone needs to have a degree in science before commenting in a science thread or that all criticisms of science are off-limits.

I'm going to say something now that may bother a few people, but hopefully not too much: I think when people feel like they have a negative opinion about religion as a whole and its effects on humanity as a whole, what they mostly have in mind is their personal negative experiences with religion, and for the most part by "religion" they mean Christianity. I somehow doubt the same people who drop the same angry comments into every thread would be as willing to tell a Unitarian, a Bahá'í, a Sikh, or a follower of Jainism to their faces that their religions were founded on worshipping "invisible sky monsters" and had "harmed and hindered human progress." And I understand where a lot of that animosity comes from; I've had plenty of my own negative experiences with Christians telling me I was going to Hell etc., and I'm profoundly bothered by the way right-wing Christian rhetoric has come to dominate so much of U.S. politics, especially. But I see such an immense gulf between those feelings and condemnations even of Christianity as a whole, let alone all of "religion," that I literally can't understand how anyone ever makes the leap. Of course, the same can be said for people who feel like they have a positive opinion about religion. All I was trying to say in my previous comment is that expressing a general opinion either way about religion as a whole seems like a waste of conversational and mental energy, because there's no possible way to ever pin down what you even mean, and you run the risk of alienating someone you could otherwise have had a productive interaction with. I hope that's a little more clear now.
posted by albrecht at 3:27 PM on March 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


Rory Marinich: “Fuck it, Dude. Let's go bowling.”

best. Last. Comment. Ever.

Ever.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:28 PM on March 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


I wish The Straightener would make a come back.

Me, too. I miss Jeff.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:35 PM on March 2, 2011


Metafilter is the only large website I'm on that even takes notice of people leaving.
posted by empath at 3:36 PM on March 2, 2011


I certainly don't think "people cannot possibly be against religion in a nuanced way." [...] I'm going to say something now that may bother a few people, but hopefully not too much: I think when people feel like they have a negative opinion about religion as a whole and its effects on humanity as a whole, what they mostly have in mind is their personal negative experiences with religion, and for the most part by "religion" they mean Christianity. [...] I see such an immense gulf between those feelings and condemnations even of Christianity as a whole, let alone all of "religion," that I literally can't understand how anyone ever makes the leap.

Oh, I see. You don't think people cannot possibly be against religion in a nuanced way... it's just that you literally can't understand how anyone ever makes the leap.

Well, like I said before, there are many here who can't understand how anyone ever makes the leap from "looks like many people have negative personal experiences with religion" to "it's a waste for anyone to express a general opinion either way about religion". Especially since it's never a waste to express a general opinion about anti-religion -- clearly, telling everyone what "you think" about "people who feel like they have a negative opinion about religion as a whole" is oh-so-important even though it "may bother a few people".

This is a real good example of the dynamic I was talking about: we all get to sit and listen to you go on about how wrong anti-religious thought is, yet it's a waste for anyone to have any opinion whatsoever about religious thought. Heads I'm wrong, tails I'm wrong... but if only I were willing to admit that my way of thinking was wrong, I could have a productive interaction in which I get to keep silent about how wrong I am!

Fantastic, that's sure to be popular. Let me know when you fill that sign-up sheet, and I'll run you off another one.
posted by vorfeed at 5:02 PM on March 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


::enters thread::

::looks around::

::backs out slowly, hoping nobody will notice him::
posted by Splunge at 5:34 PM on March 2, 2011


Let's take science as a comparable example.

Let's not. Because science, by definition, is orthogonal to the numinous. Science is the use of our senses to collate and test observations about the concrete world. Religion is the formation of social organizations based on shared beliefs in the numinous - principles and experiences outside the realm of the human senses. There is no parallel to be drawn there.

On the greater theme: I'm an atheist because I think the numinous is a cognitive byproduct of our outgrown cerebral cortices. I think some atheists use "sky daddy" and like rudenesses to challenge the dominant culture's often unspoken assumption that what's sacred to the majority should be sacred to all. It's also a way to foreground atheism. Faith is a virtue in many cultures - thus atheism is shocking, unfamiliar, and a challenge to the status quo. If you're going to present an unwelcome challenge anyway, the thinking goes, then why bother with a cowardly veneer of politeness?

Me, I'm mostly a coward. There are a lot of things I think are dumb and counterproductive, but I really don't have it in me to say so, in so many words, to the people doing them, even when they're things I feel quite passionate about. Even online, where no one is likely to commit a violent act of reprisal.
posted by gingerest at 6:01 PM on March 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


Oh, I see. You don't think people cannot possibly be against religion in a nuanced way... it's just that you literally can't understand how anyone ever makes the leap.

You seem intent on only reading about the first half of every sentence I write, so I'll try to keep this short.

"Religion is good" is not a nuanced statement. Neither is the statement "Religion is bad." To be nuanced means to have an awareness of and appreciation for subtle differences and shades of meaning. Any blanket statement that reduces millennia of human history to a thumbs-up or thumbs-down is by definition not nuanced. No matter how much either statement may resonate with me personally, I would not express either one as an opinion, simply because they cannot possibly lead anywhere. The fundamental question here is not one of thought, but of discourse.

Or maybe I'm wrong. Maybe you've studied all the world's religions in their entirety and somehow compared that to a world with absolutely no religion and come to the conclusion that yes, on balance, religion is a bad thing. I look forward to reading your several-million-page long book explaining your results in detail, because that might actually have some content. In particular, I look forward to the chapter where you define "religion" in a way that makes it clear that you're not just talking about Christianity.

Especially since it's never a waste to express a general opinion about anti-religion [...] we all get to sit and listen to you go on about how wrong anti-religious thought is

I have done no such thing, and if you think I have you need to go back and re-read what I wrote a few more times. What I expressed was a suspicion about the motivations that drive people to have blanket anti-religious opinions--that is, opinions of the form "Religion is bad." I get that you're a fan of Dawkins, for example, but his arguments are not anti-religion; they're anti-creationism, anti-dogma, anti-belief-in-a-personal-God, broadly speaking anti-Christian maybe, but there are many, many religious people who wouldn't disagree with any of that. How is that possible, you ask? Well if you'd quit making overgeneral "attacks" and just listen for 2 minutes, maybe one of them would explain it to you. That's the benefit of nuanced conversation.
posted by albrecht at 6:38 PM on March 2, 2011


Maybe you've studied all the world's religions in their entirety and somehow compared that to a world with absolutely no religion and come to the conclusion that yes, on balance, religion is a bad thing. I look forward to reading your several-million-page long book explaining your results in detail, because that might actually have some content.

This is nonsense, to be honest. There may be a lot of specific manifestations of religion, but at their core, there are only a few basic kinds of religions (a handful? A few dozen at the most?), and it doesn't take a million pages to know enough about them to have a perfectly valid opinion that they are bad for people, or for humankind. I don't know that I share the opinion, but I wouldn't dismiss anyone for expressing it.
posted by empath at 6:54 PM on March 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Any blanket statement that reduces millennia of human history to a thumbs-up or thumbs-down is by definition not nuanced.

Again, we don't hold any other human institution to this standard. "Slavery is bad" -- not nuanced? "Sexism is bad", "war is bad" -- not nuanced? I would personally say that these opinions are not nuanced, but that does not make them invalid in discourse, nor does it mean that they "cannot lead anywhere". In fact, blanket statements like these have led to some of the most transformative social changes in the past 200 years, to say nothing of ancient history.

It is utterly ridiculous to claim that we cannot or should not make these kinds of blanket statements about social forces. Thus, what you're left with is explaining why we cannot or should not make these blanket statements about religion.

Or maybe I'm wrong. Maybe you've studied all the world's religions in their entirety and somehow compared that to a world with absolutely no religion and come to the conclusion that yes, on balance, religion is a bad thing. I look forward to reading your several-million-page long book explaining your results in detail, because that might actually have some content. In particular, I look forward to the chapter where you define "religion" in a way that makes it clear that you're not just talking about Christianity.

I gave a brief overview of my beliefs here. It didn't take a million pages, and no, it's not just about Christianity. All from my point of view, of course; value judgments like "it's a bad thing" are subjective, anyway.

What I expressed was a suspicion about the motivations that drive people to have blanket anti-religious opinions--that is, opinions of the form "Religion is bad."

Yes, and my point was that your suspicion shows very little "awareness of and appreciation for subtle differences and shades of meaning". You want everyone to assume that anti-theism is a waste which starts and ends with Dawkins and "personal negative experiences with religion", yet you're upset when others want us to assume that theism is a harmful thing which starts and ends with fundamentalist Christianity. This is nothing but cake-and-eat-it-tooism... and, again, asks everyone to accept the idea that religion is inherently more special and/or nuanced than ideas to the contrary are.

Besides, if people's "motivations" are fair game, then why is it a problem when people express suspicions about the motivations that drive people to have pro-religious opinions, such as "they're doing it to please an invisible sky wizard"? Sorry, but "what? I'm just discussing people's motivations!" is not going to fool anyone here.
posted by vorfeed at 8:37 PM on March 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


> On what basis can anyone decide what effect religion as a whole has on human progress? It's just such
> a ridiculous thing to even imagine doing.
> posted by albrecht at 3:39 PM on March 1

> The idea that religion is generally a negative thing seems ridiculous to you, and to many others.
> Likewise, the idea that religion is generally a neutral or positive thing seems ridiculous to Decani,
> and to many others.
> posted by vorfeed at 4:40 PM on March 1

That's not what albrecht considers ridiculous; what's ridiculous, per albrecht, is imagining that it's possible to know whether religion's overall impact has been positive or negative.
posted by jfuller at 9:12 PM on March 2, 2011


I think his point about slavery applies. There have been lots of kinds of slavery throughout the world. One doesn't need to be an expert in the particulars of all of them to make a blanket statement about their value, i don't think.
posted by empath at 10:16 PM on March 2, 2011


(or if you don't like the negative connotations of slavery, try, I dunno... Education)
posted by empath at 10:18 PM on March 2, 2011


vorfeed, I disagree with your position on religion.

I don't think it's possible to make generalizations about religion, if you really mean all religions, beyond something like: Almost all human societies have and have had some kind of religion. That is to say, most human communities have these features, though the actual rules, rituals and assumptions vary enormously.

If you state that all religions believe in God or gods, that all religions believe in salvation by faith, that all religions are mysogynist, I'll disagree with you because you're wrong. Not all religions are theist. The most prominent non-theist religion is Buddhism, but if you get into small ethnic religions or smaller non-ethnic religions (like Unitarian-Universalism in the US and Canada) there are a lot more of them. Salvation by faith is a specifically Christian concept, as is the idea that people are in a "fallen state" that they need to be saved from. This idea seems weird and doesn't make sense in the conceptual framework of most other religions. Yes, religious rules about what people in their communities should and shouldn't do do support the traditional values of those communities. If a community is patriarchal their religion will be patriarchal, and this is more or less true of all the major world religions. However, patriarchy is not inherent in, or caused by, communities having shared rituals and beliefs.

Although you're an atheist, I think you're accepting without question specifically Christian assumptions what religion is and what it means to reject it. In other words, you're buying in to Christianity's metaphysical framework, and accepting it's definition of itself as the definition of all religion, without even remotely considering that there might be other ways to think about things, that other religions define themselves differently from the way Christianity defines itself, or that it might be possible to step back a bit and think about religion outside of this one religion's framework.

Although I think you're (partly) wrong, I don't object to you having the opinions you do and expressing them on MetaFilter. I don't understand why you think the existence of people like me who disagree with you on MetaFilter is equivalent to telling you to shut up.
posted by nangar at 11:32 PM on March 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Here's the recent thread on the grey where we argued about this, FWIW.
posted by girih knot at 1:15 AM on March 3, 2011


"Again, we don't hold any other human institution to this standard. "Slavery is bad" -- not nuanced? "Sexism is bad", "war is bad" -- not nuanced? I would personally say that these opinions are not nuanced, but that does not make them invalid in discourse, nor does it mean that they "cannot lead anywhere". In fact, blanket statements like these have led to some of the most transformative social changes in the past 200 years, to say nothing of ancient history."

That's silly.

First off, saying things like, "Sexism is bad," or "Slavery is bad," are inane and really don't lead anywhere — OK, sport, we all agree sexism is bad. What's sexism? Does this hypothetical example apply or doesn't it? What should be done?

This is sloganeering mistaken for argument.

Further, all of those things that you listed aren't bad just because they're bad, which you seem to be putting forward in a naive state of grace — they're bad because they have harms that we disagree with. Slavery isn't bad without harms; one can argue that the voluntary slavery of 24-7 power roleplay fetishists has a harm, but it's relatively easy to disagree with that. War isn't always bad — the American entry into WWII was largely a good thing, even if it was hell for the soldiers and full of ugliness. You'd be hard-pressed to find Americans who believe the Revolutionary War was a bad thing. On their own, statements like "War is bad," are functionally empty and just as moronic to parrot as, "Drugs are bad," or "Crime is bad," or "Poop is bad."

So, I realize that because you have a very reductive and simplistic view of religion that you have an interest in defending reductive and simplistic criticisms of religion, but pretending that reductive and simplistic statements are good arguments or valid statements on their own, or add much to the conversation is special pleading for the idea that religion is just so bad and pervasive that any little spark of resistance must be kindled, regardless of how inane and content-free it is.
posted by klangklangston at 8:13 AM on March 3, 2011 [5 favorites]

Any blanket statement that reduces millennia of human history to a thumbs-up or thumbs-down is by definition not nuanced.
Again, we don't hold any other human institution to this standard. "Slavery is bad" -- not nuanced? "Sexism is bad", "war is bad" -- not nuanced? I would personally say that these opinions are not nuanced, but that does not make them invalid in discourse, nor does it mean that they "cannot lead anywhere".

Ok, this is good. I think we're finally beginning to get somewhere. You've admitted that your broad claims about religion being bad are not nuanced, and you've argued that nuance in this instance is not important and is even counterproductive.

So why does nuance matter in conversations about religion and not when it comes to blanket condemnations of slavery and sexism? The reason is that when you communicate with someone using words, it's important that the words you use conjure up the same images and associations in the listener's mind as they do in your mind. That's the essence of communication. If, for example, I told you "Fresnarus is bad for humanity," and refused to clarify what I meant by "fresnarus," nothing at all would have been accomplished in the exchange. And that doesn't mean I'm not allowed to hold that opinion, just that there's absolutely no point in expressing it to you unless I can put it in terms that correlate to something in your mind that's similar to what's in my mind when I say it.

Now, the problem with the word "religion" is even worse. When you say things like "Religion is bad," you're using a word that correlates to a lot of things you may not have in mind when you issue your proclamation. That is, it has accidental associations that trigger emotional responses in people. When, if asked for clarification, you say that "religion kills people, just like war, often through war," that tramples on a set of personal associations people have of religious traditions that emphasize pacifism. When you say "it tells us that we're here to follow its values, not to create new ones for ourselves" or "it tells us we're like this because we're broken, a problem only religion can fix," that clashes with people's direct experience of religious traditions that emphasize introspection and self-empowerment. When you say, "It keeps us from honestly confronting the Inconvenient Truths of the universe, among 'em: this is the life we've got," that conflicts with the many religious traditions that emphasize social action in the service of making the world a better place and have no concept of the afterlife. If your response to this is "Well those aren't religions!" consider that you alone don't get to define what words mean for other people.

What you've done is generalized a criticism of the particular--particular religions, particular historical events, particular communities--to an overbroad criticism of the whole. It's like this xkcd comic. You're watching a girl make a math mistake and saying "Girls suck at math." And I'm thinking of all the girls I know who are good at math and getting offended.

Contrast that with the word "slavery," which is pretty universally understood to mean a particular human enterprise--the forcing of people to work against their will and the management of them as property. You say the word "slavery" and pretty much everyone (excluding the BDSM community klangklangston mentioned) knows what you're talking about. So despite the fact that the statement "Slavery is bad" isn't really a meaningful argument and doesn't add much to a conversation, at least it's clear what you're getting at. More to the point, it's clear what you intend the consequence to be: Slavery is bad; therefore, we should not enslave people. It is the kind of thing you can almost switch on or off in society, unlike religion. Try, if you will, to complete this sentence in a way that doesn't suggest genocide or forced conversion: "Religion is bad; therefore _____."

Before you go find-and-replace "religion" with "anti-religion" in what I've said and call double-standard again, I just want to say again that neither I nor anyone else is telling you not to have overgeneral opinions about religion. I personally do not care at all whether you think religion is a force for evil in the world. What I do care about is that you not drop this Truth Bomb in every thread related to religion, or really anywhere at all that I can see it. And, somewhat selfishly, what I mostly care about is that you not drop it in threads about Judaism. If it helps, don't think of Judaism as a religion; think of it as a support group, a book club, a community action network, a music appreciation society, a family reunion, a civilization, a Kehillah Kedoshah, whatever you have to do to keep you from commenting about how Jews worship an invisible sky monster and how that's so stupid. If you can do that, and I can keep from saying that Dawkins is a self-important prick with a limited understanding of religious history, then I think you and I are cool.
posted by albrecht at 10:06 AM on March 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Further, all of those things that you listed aren't bad just because they're bad, which you seem to be putting forward in a naive state of grace — they're bad because they have harms that we disagree with.

People who think religion is bad also think it's bad because it has harms that they disagree with. And they're met with the entirely "reductive and simplistic" claim that it is impossible for religion to have harms that anyone can disagree with.

That's what we're talking about, here. For the record, I do not think that statements like "religion is bad" stand as an argument on their own, at least not any more or less than blanket anti-war or anti-slavery statements; I simply believe that it is both possible and valid to conclude that religion is, generally, negative, just as we do with war and slavery.
posted by vorfeed at 10:11 AM on March 3, 2011


"People who think religion is bad also think it's bad because it has harms that they disagree with. And they're met with the entirely "reductive and simplistic" claim that it is impossible for religion to have harms that anyone can disagree with. "

That's not what's being claimed at all, and it's disingenuous to suggest that it is.

"That's what we're talking about, here. For the record, I do not think that statements like "religion is bad" stand as an argument on their own, at least not any more or less than blanket anti-war or anti-slavery statements; I simply believe that it is both possible and valid to conclude that religion is, generally, negative, just as we do with war and slavery."

Slavery and sexism (and to a lesser extent, war) are bad insofar only as they are defined as bad; to say that "religion is bad" requires you to beg the question and assume that your definition of religion as bad thereby makes it bad. As that definition is simplistic and reductive, it is rightly challenged.

You're back to saying that "Poop is bad," and it only works for those who agree with you about poop.

Like I said, it's a functionally empty statement.
posted by klangklangston at 10:38 AM on March 3, 2011


When, if asked for clarification, you say that "religion kills people, just like war, often through war," that tramples on a set of personal associations people have of religious traditions that emphasize pacifism. When you say "it tells us that we're here to follow its values, not to create new ones for ourselves" or "it tells us we're like this because we're broken, a problem only religion can fix," that clashes with people's direct experience of religious traditions that emphasize introspection and self-empowerment. When you say, "It keeps us from honestly confronting the Inconvenient Truths of the universe, among 'em: this is the life we've got," that conflicts with the many religious traditions that emphasize social action in the service of making the world a better place and have no concept of the afterlife.

Again, this is from my point of view, and it's a statement about the general effects of religion. I do, in fact, recognize that there are religions which emphasize pacifism, or emphasize introspection and self-empowerment, or emphasize social action in the service of making the world a better place and have no concept of the afterlife. I just don't agree that religion is generally free from the negatives I mentioned. Nor do I believe that the positive attributes of some religions make up for the way that they're contained within a self-perpetuating framework (and one I'd call a lie, at that), one which requires a great deal of human effort in and of itself. This is what I meant by "Admittedly, though, religion gives humanity comfort, guidance, and free soup in return -- comfort we could make for ourselves, guidance we could forge for ourselves, and soup we could buy for ourselves by the metric ton, if we weren't wasting an untold fortune in effort, lives, and treasure on religion."

I acknowledge that there are some nice things about some religions, but they're nice things which come at a price: the elevation of what gingerest calls "the numinous" (and its related religious trappings) over other parts of the human experience, generally at the cost of great effort. For someone who doesn't believe that the numinous has a high value, this is a poor trade at best, if not a thievery, and that concept is at the heart of my argument.

It is the kind of thing you can almost switch on or off in society, unlike religion. Try, if you will, to complete this sentence in a way that doesn't suggest genocide or forced conversion: "Religion is bad; therefore _____."

..."I will speak against it in the hope that others will stop supporting it, causing it to become less important to society and, hopefully, eventually die out". I don't agree (to say the least) that genocide or forced conversion are the only options. Much of Europe has become more secular over the last 50 years, for example, and the process was remarkably free of coercion and violence.

I just want to say again that neither I nor anyone else is telling you not to have overgeneral opinions about religion. I personally do not care at all whether you think religion is a force for evil in the world. What I do care about is that you not drop this Truth Bomb in every thread related to religion, or really anywhere at all that I can see it.

As far as I'm concerned, it is unreasonable to ask others to silence themselves based solely on the content of their opinions. If someone posts an anti-religious comment which is off-topic or otherwise breaks the rules, the mods will delete it; if not, they won't. I hope this will always come down to the rules, not the fact that you think it's invalid to suggest that religion is a force for evil in the world.

Besides, I don't "drop this Truth Bomb in every thread related to religion" -- I pretty much only talk about it in MeTa, and in direct response to those who claim that people shouldn't be allowed to express anti-religious opinions. I've been damn good about this in my time on this site, and the constant suggestion that I haven't is getting tiring.
posted by vorfeed at 11:43 AM on March 3, 2011 [5 favorites]


This is what I meant by "Admittedly, though, religion gives humanity comfort, guidance, and free soup in return -- comfort we could make for ourselves, guidance we could forge for ourselves, and soup we could buy for ourselves by the metric ton, if we weren't wasting an untold fortune in effort, lives, and treasure on religion."

Where do you think religion comes from? Religion IS comfort that we've made for ourselves, and guidance that we've forged for ourselves. Some people do it differently than you, dude.
posted by girih knot at 11:57 AM on March 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Slavery and sexism (and to a lesser extent, war) are bad insofar only as they are defined as bad; to say that "religion is bad" requires you to beg the question and assume that your definition of religion as bad thereby makes it bad. As that definition is simplistic and reductive, it is rightly challenged.

You're back to saying that "Poop is bad," and it only works for those who agree with you about poop.


You just described how moral judgments work. As I freely admitted earlier, "value judgments like 'it's a bad thing' are subjective, anyway"; that doesn't mean we can't make them, or argue in favor of them, in the hope that others might agree that society should generally oppose poop, slavery, sexism, and/or war.

I've seen you argue many times against bigotry; should I reply with "lol you're saying 'poop is bad'", or can we drop this line of argument?
posted by vorfeed at 12:00 PM on March 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


What I do care about is that you not drop this Truth Bomb in every thread related to religion, or really anywhere at all that I can see it.

Clearly, Metafilter should have Free Speech Zones for the atheists to comment in, to keep folks like you happy.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:12 PM on March 3, 2011


As far as I'm concerned, it is unreasonable to ask others to silence themselves based solely on the content of their opinions.

Agreed, I guess, but I don't really know what this means. I only ask people to be silent in certain contexts based solely on the content of what they would say. That's not just me, though; those are the rules (see below).

If someone posts an anti-religious comment which is off-topic or otherwise breaks the rules, the mods will delete it; if not, they won't. I hope this will always come down to the rules, not the fact that you think it's invalid to suggest that religion is a force for evil in the world.

Nope, this is just about the rules and why I think it's good that they're enforced the way they are. I think a "everyone post anything they want and let the mods sort it out" approach is generally not great, though, but that's ultimately up to them to police. Until we figure this out as a community I'm content to swallow hard and FIAMO.

Besides, I don't "drop this Truth Bomb in every thread related to religion" -- I pretty much only talk about it in MeTa, and in direct response to those who claim that people shouldn't be allowed to express anti-religious opinions. I've been damn good about this in my time on this site, and the constant suggestion that I haven't is getting tiring.

You're right; you don't. I apologize for suggesting otherwise. I think I said "every thread" when I really meant "any thread."

Clearly, Metafilter should have Free Speech Zones for the atheists to comment in, to keep folks like you happy.

Oh, didn't you hear? We have those now: they're called Your Own Fucking Blog.
posted by albrecht at 2:13 PM on March 3, 2011


Oh, didn't you hear? We have those now: they're called Your Own Fucking Blog.

I really have to say that that attitude just confirms what I have observed. This community has little to no ability to rationally judge the values of atheism or the values of atheists on Metafilter, when any contributions are equated with "Truth Bombs" that should be ghettoed on a blog Out Of Sight and Somewhere Else.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:20 PM on March 3, 2011


This community has little to no ability to rationally judge the values of atheism or the values of atheists on Metafilter

Bullshit. There are a lot of atheists on this site, and a lot of religious folks, and no shortage of folks in the bands of agnosticism between, and most of them manage to get along with each other perfectly fine without going after each other about religion or atheism or who is or who isn't or what that's worth.

Some people have obnoxious attitudes about atheism or atheists. Some people have obnoxious attitudes about religion or those who hold religious beliefs. Some atheists are obnoxious, and so are some religious people. The obnoxious attitude stuff is the fucking problem, and no small part of it is because of the kind of Us vs. Them narrative that presupposes that mefi is some sort of place where They (for whatever value suits the position of the person making any given argument) Are Against Us and basically undermines from the get go any actual civil conversation about the stuff. We, like most places on the internet, have a loudmouth problem. Not so much an anti-atheism problem.

Beyond which, the idea that if mefi has some sort of collective bias on a purported Religion vs. Atheism scale that that bias favors the Religion side of the scale is totally baffling to me as one of the people who has to actually clean up the goddam messes this stuff makes on the site. That's speaking as an atheist with no real love for organized religion. This is not a site where atheists have been dealt a particularly bum hand.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:48 PM on March 3, 2011 [10 favorites]


Agreed, I guess, but I don't really know what this means. I only ask people to be silent in certain contexts based solely on the content of what they would say. That's not just me, though; those are the rules (see below).

I think the line you're drawing between the content of an opinion and the content of its expression is unreasonable. There's examining the tone and context of a comment, and then there's "I personally do not care at all whether you think religion is a force for evil in the world. What I do care about is that you not drop this Truth Bomb in every thread related to religion, or really anywhere at all that I can see it." The latter is clearly more about the content of the opinion ("religion is a force for evil in the world") than the way it is expressed, especially since you've argued from the beginning that it is impossible to express this opinion in an acceptable way.

Likewise, it should be obvious that "anywhere at all that I can see it" does not equal "certain contexts". Unless by that you mean Contexts Outside Your Own Fucking Blog, in which case I hope you'll allow me to suggest that you apply your version of "the rules" to -- you guessed it -- Your Own Fucking Blog.
posted by vorfeed at 2:55 PM on March 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


How did I miss this thread? I guess the thread title looked too much like an NYC meetup thread.

Anyway, I hope Rory M comes back soon. His comments were always interesting, and thanks to him my first MeTa callout was shmooptastic instead of shameful.
posted by Rhaomi at 11:17 AM on March 8, 2011


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