On “Reasoned” Bigotry

http://mediamatters.org/video/2014/09/29/on-cnn-reza-aslan-explains-how-the-media-is-fai/200942

Bill Maher. Now there’s a guy. Always has a can of bigotry to throw around.

Now, let’s be fair; he is a comedian, and most of what he does is to get a reaction — but that definition is the exact same definition one can apply to a bully. I actually couldn’t watch the full length of his… Well, it is called a “documentary” on paper, but his movie Religulous. It is less a “documentary” and more “making religious people feel awkward and confused.” It has been years since last I even tried to watch it, so I cannot quote it, but my heart went out to the religious people he was speaking with. There is the reasonable approach to getting people with dated beliefs to join the 21st century inclusive society, and then there is… that.

Now, he is paid to be over the top, in the same way that Bill O’Reily is. (Is it something about the name Bill? Most Bills I have known have been a little over the top, and hold very aggressive views. #WhatsInAName) As I mentioned just yesterday, though, this is lowering the level of discourse.

So what brought all of this up? Well, Media Matters released a video of Bill Maher speaking at some length about the problems with Islam. The woman hating, the bigotry, the racism, etc. Reza Azlan, one of my personal heroes, is interviewed regarding what Maher said, and he takes his interviewers to task. Reza Azlan, despite GREAT opposition, tries to raise the level of the debate. “Women are treated poorly in Saudi Arabia, therefore all Muslims treat women poorly.” Azlan’s response carries his characteristic level-headedness; “You can’t paint a religion based on one country when the population of the religion is 1.5 billion.” He provides counter arguments, he provides examples, he provides wonderful replies to his increasingly flustered interviewers, because that is who he is.

I am not so level headed as Mr Azlan, and I am sure you’ll understand from having read my blog. My reply, the very first thing I thought when I heard these interviewers, and when I heard Maher’s speech, was “Well, there are known pedophiles in the Catholic Priesthood. Does that mean all Catholics are pedophiles? There are known racists among the Baptist Churches. Does that mean all Baptists are racists?” No, you’re being silly. I will admit I am not well versed in gender politics as it relates to Africa, the Middle East, and Eastern Europe, but if a man who has written books on the subject tells me “The majority of Muslim countries have a large amount of gender equity,” and then proceeds to give me empirical examples (that I am free to verify), maybe I will check my opinion and rethink.

That blade does cut both ways, though. Bill Maher is an asshole, but I’d like to think that painting all nontheists with a brush based on his template is just silly. What’s really funny is that I think Maher does more damage to reason and rationality than he does help, especially because in atheist circles he is often well liked. Up until a few years ago, I would have said he was universally liked. You know what hurts more than anything, though? Atheists in public positions actually have to denounce Maher’s often bigoted opinions, because they DO get painted with the same brush.

So hey, let’s stop being assholes to each other first, then after that we can start to come together and decide what we all believe in, and we can stop calling each other bigoted racist faggy pedophilic necrophiles.

If you are, in fact, a bigoted racist faggy pedophilic necrophile, I am sorry to say this, but you’re kind of like… Messed up. You should go get that looked at.

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