I just came across this “Guest Voice” column from the Washington Post’s “On Faith” section of their website. While it’s fairly offensive and disturbing, I can only assume this is meant to be a satire. Perhaps a massively exaggerated send-up of religious right rhetoric – not a legitimate column. Singing the praises of Mel Gibson? Celebrating the political strategy of “breeding like rabbits”? Nobody writing this stuff could hope to be taken seriously, right? Right? Hmmm… let me Google its author, Catholic League president Bill Donahue.
Oh. Never mind.
Ok, so it’s depressing that wackos like this are out there having their hateful drivel showcased on a legitimate newspaper’s website. And it’s even more depressing that plenty of people probably agree with them. But this morning, I’m just going to laugh over his ridiculous ideas and nutty beliefs. For one thing, this guy doesn’t deserve to be taken seriously. And for another, I don’t have time to get all worked up. I have to get back to walking my dog, going to bathhouses, and aborting my kids.
As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I’ve been looking forward to seeing acclaimed scientist/atheist/author Richard Dawkins at Portland’s Wordstock literary festival. Yesterday was the big day, and Dawkins drew a sizable crowd- so large that the beginning of his speech had to be delayed thirty minutes while a room partition could be opened to accommodate all the attendees. Dawkins didn’t disappoint – his lecture was informative, engaging, and really funny. The first portion of his time was devoted to reading excerpts from his new book, The Greatest Show on Earth (which was included in the $22 admission – good deal!), the second half was spent on audience Q & A. Without going into minute detail, he was informative, charming, and I’d definitely see him again if given the opportunity.
On another note, I had a bit of a Larry David moment during the lecture. I was sitting next to an older man who apparently thought it was perfectly appropriate to suck loudly on hard candies in the middle of a quiet roomful of attentive listeners. And by “older”, I’m talking Dorothy, not Sophia- old enough to know better, without that possibly-senile license to allow such behavior. Seriously, this guy was disgusting, with his smacking away and slurping candy juices inside his mouth. Just gross. I had an ethical dilemma on my hands – he was ruining my ability to concentrate, infuriating my boyfriend on my other side, and visibly disturbing other people around us. His companions didn’t seem to mind, for some incomprehensible reason… so I felt as though the social responsibility was mine to shush him. But was that rude? Out of line? In any case, I reached a breaking point. I tapped his arm and said, “I’m sorry- that’s quite distracting. The chewing- it’s very distracting!” He stared at me silently like I’d slapped him in the face, but he stopped.
My reason for sharing this story is to encourage similar behavior. If someone’s parents never had the presence of mind to teach manners to their children, I think it’s appropriate for those of us who do know better to correct those errors, even if it’s sixty years past due. So come on, all of you who have silently endured such an annoying situation – speak up, in the name of manners and consideration. Speak up politely, but speak up nonetheless. While none of us are perfect, sometimes a person clearly needs to be called out on their rude behavior, and we should have the balls to do so!
Dawkins has his soapbox, and now I’ve got mine.
I purchased tickets today to Richard Dawkins’s speaking appearance at Wordstock, Portland’s annual book/writing/literary festival (yes, literary festival – yet another reason why I love this town).
I get to see this guy!
If he causes Bill O’Reilly to be this visibly uncomfortable and incoherent, I’m in. And the boyfriend is coming with me, whether he likes it or not (he will).
Kirk Cameron is deeply concerned about well-educated people choosing not to believe in his God… and has a plan to change their minds. I checked my Twitter account this morning to find an alert from Richard Dawkins, famous author and even more famous atheist. While I don’t read all of Dawkins’s tweets (yes, I follow him on Twitter, and no I haven’t read his books – I know) I did follow up on this one because I always liked Growing Pains. In a scheme equal parts concerning and amusing, Kirk Cameron (yes, that Kirk Cameron) and the organization Living Waters have commissioned, printed, and plan to give away thousands of copies of Darwin’s Origin of the Species, across college campuses, on the 150th anniversary of its original publication. The catch is, they’ve supplemented Darwin’s work (well, an abridged version of it) with their own 50-page “Special Introduction”. This introduction attempts to debunk and discredit Darwin’s work through various strategies, including blaming the Holocaust on its influence on Adolf Hitler. Side note: don’t think too hard about how many people have been killed due to the influence or outright orders of various religious texts – I don’t want you to get depressed.
Sensationalist tactics aside, the underlying argument is that it’s impossible to create something from nothing, and the world is something, so therefore the Christian God created the world and died for your sins and yada yada yada. The introduction is basically a glorified tract, and the whole publication and giveaway of the book is a way to get college kids to accept Christian literature disguised as a free science book. Personally, I think they’d have better luck printing their requisite sinner’s prayer on a pizza box, but it’s not my call. Although it seems a little silly (read the introduction and decide for yourself if this stellar research and argument will persuade your typical Harvard student) an opposition Facebook group has sprung up to organize people to ask for the books, rip out the introduction, and donate the remaining pages to libraries, Goodwill, etc. While the Cameron clan is targeting “50 of the top universities” in the United States, and thus probably NOT little old Portland State University, I’ll still check around on November 24th and grab a copy or two. But I’ll probably hang on to the introduction, because in 150 more years, I’ll bet it will be a downright hilarious memento for a collector to come across.
For a good time, read the introduction here: http://assets.livingwaters.com/pdf/OriginofSpecies.pdf
And then check out Kirk Cameron’s special message for dessert: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GN9zpf5cT0M
Thanks, social networking, for giving me both a laugh and a way to be a better atheist today.