Friday, March 27, 2015
This Was Supposed to Be All About Phil Robertson But
Something happened as I was attempting to write an open letter to Phil Robertson. I am a Duck Dynasty fan and I am an atheist. Those of you who find that to be contradictory-- tell someone who cares. Not all of us non-believers are liberal or progressive or democrats or some combination of the three. I digress.
The thing is, I was reading through the ton of media and blog coverage on Phil Robertson's remarks to the Vero Beach Prayer Breakfast that took place on Friday morning, March 20th in Vero Beach, Florida. Yeah, I listened to the recordings and watched the videos too.
Phil Robertson is entitled to freedom of expression, just like every civilian in the United States is. Within that protection, he is allowed to be rude and crude and shocking and controversial. Talking about castration during a breakfast might have made me lose a bit of my appetite had I been there. But I wasn't there. Didn't know about it. Could not have afforded to go if I had been invited. Wasn't invited. Might have preferred to hang on the beach or at a bookstore instead had I been in Florida that morning.
The rest of us civilians are entitled to freedom of expression too. Some folks have supported Phil. Others have not. And some people have pretty much exercised their freedom to not give a damn. Because as my good buddy Jeremy Crow points out, freedom of speech is not equivalent to freedom to be heard. We cannot fight all the battles there are or attend all the celebratory parties either.
At first, I thought I hope Phil isn't suffering from some sort of neurological condition or disorder that would make inhibiting his dis-inhibitions tougher. [Between the changes after my brain injury and watching dad getting swallowed up by Lewy Body Dementia, there remains no mystery as to why I would think that almost immediately]. Then I thought, Geez, Phil Robertson doesn't think that we atheists have morals or values. Finally I said to myself, "I don't really know what he thinks. He is a dude on the teevee on a show that I love."
Where his comments outrageous? Sure. Shocking? Yup. Do I approve of his parable about the atheist family? Nope. Does that mean he ought not to have said that stuff? Nope. Could he have expressed his point better? That's an opinion question. Will I continue to watch Duck Dynasty? Yep.
Detractors talked about Phil Robertson having some kind of sick fantasy life. Defenders talked about moral relativism. I wasn't sure about this moral relativism stuff so I had to look it up. Some percentage of Christians are opposed to moral relativism. So Phil Robertson is a Christian who is opposed to moral relativism. Okay. Fine. I get that. Cool. And then I discovered that I fit-- somewhere-- into that scale of morally relativistic, although I am not sure of exactly where. Because there are things that I recognize as being wrong. I wanted to be some kind of Ayn Rand when I grew up, or at least a Nathaniel Branden. Instead I discovered that I am a sort of libertarian anarchist with decided ideas about less government being more fun. Which perhaps borrows something from each of them but with a slightly different spin.
Christians who believe in absolute morality e.g. "God said it's wrong so it is" have a hard time understanding that atheists too possess morality. Rejection of a personal belief in any gods does not mean an automatic rejection of any sort of moral standards. Wherever morality and conscience come from, believers say the deity of their choice delivered the laws to live by and gave us individual consciences. Non-believers may cite Hammurabi's Code and then go on to talk about the evolutionary process and perhaps cultures and stuff like that.
Then I ran into this article about The Islamic State training kids in the fine art of beheading people.
http://www.gospelherald.com/articles/54915/20150326/isis-recruits-over-400-children-as-cubs-of-the-caliphate-training-includes-beheading.htm Uh. That there is wrong. The Islamic State or ISIS or those other initials that I can never remember indicate people following a version of Islam which is also caught up in the usurption of power and lives from a bunch of other nations and people.
From there, my brain and my fingers jumped to some articles on the National Prayer Breakfast held on Feburary 5, 2015 in Washington D.C. at the Hilton. Not your average local diner or small restaurant. The guest list included the Dalai Lama dude in spite of protests by China over interference of other nations in the affairs of Tibet.
Whether or not the current president is a "secret Muslim," he is doing a piss-poor job of convincing people otherwise. And then I made a judgement call. What President Obama said at the National Prayer Breakfast was far, far worse than what Phil Robertson said at the Vero Beach Prayer Breakfast. Obummer's appeal to the religious to remember that no one's god wants them to go whupping ass at random did not have any good effect on me. His stunning revelation that Christians did the Crusade thing back in the Middle Ages left me coldly shrieking in rage. Yo, the Crusades were a response to the Muslims of that time doing invasions. And many more people have been slaughtered by the uh extremist jihadists who we aren't supposed to believe are true Muslims than by the Crusaders. Besides that, the Crusades ain't happening now.
We are living in a world where people get beheaded and stuff gets blown up. A world where some little kids strap on suicide vests and other little kids learn how to behead their perceived enemies. A world where Islam itself has not yet proven that it can take a seat at the prayer breakfast table.
There's gangs of young people roaming around London imposing Sharia law at will. And other places too are getting thrust into this sort of stuff. What gives them the right? Every time we try to play nice with the ruffians who are endeavoring to take over the sandbox, we give them that right. Our president-- America first and all of that, home of the brave and the free-- gives them that right when he preaches his gospel of denial.
Mr. President, your denial is threatening our way of life. The Islamic State or ISIS or whatever you wish to call it is composed of people following some version of Islam. They are Muslims. Not all Muslims want to implement or live under sharia law. But and however, the ones making the most noise right now are. Your failure to address this current event-- the attempted takeover by those favoring Sharia law-- sucks.
Furthermore, I am still not over the notion that you visited Saudi Arabia recently in order to pay homage to both a dead king and a live king. Saudi Arabia, country of public beheadings. Don't you dare tell me that the folks in charge over there are not Muslims.
And by the way Mr. President, some of us still fervently believe that human lives are far more important than big oil. Some of us acknowledge that we as a nation need to become independent of and and all oil that originates in other nations apart from this one, and that we need to develop technology for transportation that does not involve consumption of oil-- in that order, period. We need to make some tough decisions as a nation. If you are incapable of doing that, then you deserve to be voted out next time or not to run at all.
You've encouraged (and that is putting it mildly) the N.S.A. and those other agencies to collect metadata on everyone everywhere to the point where sifting the threats and the possible threats from the non-threats is a daunting task (to put it mildly). Our fundamental right to some privacy has been eroded. You have cut the military defense budget. That is the height of stupidity given what is happening all over with the proponents of Sharia law. Then you tell the U.N. that ISIS is not Muslim and you tell a prayer breakfast stuff about distorted faith.
Maybe Phil Robertson can pound some sense into your head, Mr. President. At least he is clear about exactly what the Islamic State is composed of and exactly what their aim is. And he has a plan for ISIS too. Phil Robertson is not living in a fairy tale world Mr. President. You are.
This is wrong:
Obama and the Christian vs. ISIS thing: [National Prayer Breakfast 2/5/2015]
Phil Robertson at Vero Beach Prayer Breakfast 3/20/2015
mostly supportive reactions, or attempts to be neutral:
~ part of Phil Robertson talk as broadcasted on trunews radio ~
~ Phil Robertson's acceptance speech at C.PAC
morals: where do they come from?
mostly against Phil Robertson's morality illustration: