Bigotry kills people?

Neil Macdonald of the CBC would like us all to end our religious “bigotry” against homosexuals. We need to stop the criticisms, the joking (or even smiling at jokes that other people tell), and definitely stop quoting any sacred scriptures that condemn the act. After all, according to Macdonald, we are complicit in the mass murders that just took place in Orlando because we have contributed to a culture within which such actions are, apparently, inevitable.

I can only assume that Macdonald will be equally contrite given his complicity in the beheading of Christians by ISIS, and will perhaps refrain, in the future, from questioning, criticizing, or even joking about, Christianity. After all, his jokes and criticisms contributed to a culture within which such actions are inevitable. The blood of those Christians is on his hands.

If this seems strange to you, follow Macdonald’s logic with me. He begins by recounting the attack on women at a post-secondary institution in Quebec many years back. He describes how there is a “culture” that may not necessarily have been openly hostile to women, but perhaps allowed for a little too much joking at women’s expense. When enough men will joke about women, or even merely smile when other men joked about women, then that opened the door to more extreme responses, including gunning a bunch of women students down.

In light of Orlando, Macdonald claims the same kind of culture exists that opens the door to such actions against homosexuals. When we joke about gays or, worse yet, claim that perhaps their actions really aren’t the best things to do with the human body then our disagreement with homosexuality creates an environment within which it now becomes somewhat more acceptable for somebody to blast a bunch of lead into a gay nightclub in the hopes of killing those inside.

You disagreed; people died. That seems to be the message.

If Macdonald is right, then the logic would hardly seem to be limited to homosexuality. Being openly critical of any particular demographic means that one is contributing to the actions of those who murder those from that demographic. If that is true, then Macdonald’s open criticism of the Christian Faith – through the very public channel of the CBC no less – must, by his logic, contribute to the shaping of a culture wherein beheading Christians is a logical inevitability. Not only Macdonald, but countless vocal, militant, Atheists and other critics of religion must come to terms with the fact that they have blood on their hands. Can we expect Dawkins to find his way to a confessional, or at least begin to keep his mouth shut for fear that he might further contribute to a culture where beheading Christians is seen as acceptable?

That logic might be, as Macdonald wrote, “hard to swallow, but only a dullard could reject the logic outright.” But if true, then insofar as critics of homosexuality are complicit in the murder of gays in Orlando, Macdonald is complicit in the beheading of Christians elsewhere in the world. That sword he’s swinging around in his crusade to right the wrongs of the world is equally sharp on both of its two edges.

Call me a dullard if you will, but that logic is frankly illogical.

I don’t actually believe that Macdonald is in any plausible way complicit in any beheading of any Christian. Nor do I blame any of the civilized critics of Christianity for the actions of ISIS. Dawkins… well… does anybody actually listen to him anymore anyway? Rather, I welcome reasoned criticisms of Christianity; it keeps us Christians on our toes. It makes us think, and it forces us to examine our own assumptions. The resistance is a good thing, in my experience. And when some psychos kill off a bunch of Christians somewhere in the world, I don’t for a second blame Macdonald or any other civilized opponent of Christianity.

Similarly, voicing objections against any particular demographic in a reasonable, civilized manner – heck, I’d even broaden that out a bit and include impassioned, frustrated objections as well – is not materially contributing to the immoral actions that some crazed lunatics (be they lone gunmen or “organized” lunatics like ISIS) might take against that same demographics that we criticize. Macdonald is not to blame for Christian beheadings, just as I am not to blame for Orlando. Contra the incessant mantra of “homophobia” (and other such ideologically invented language) the vast majority of us who disagree with homosexuals do not hate them. Civilized opponents are not to blame for the actions of those who kill. Similarly, no civilized critic of feminism is to blame for the slaughter in Quebec.

Such finger pointing does nothing to advance civil discourse on these matters, is absolutely not going to reduce any bloodshed, and is more plausibly interpreted as opportunistic cheap shots against whichever group you happen to disagree with, than a reasoned analysis of the situation. It’s little more than another instance of emotional manipulation for political gains.

[As an aside, the theory that religious opposition to homosexuality contributed to the events of that night is growing doubtful in light of reports that the killer may have been a regular guest at the very nightclub he gunned down. It’s hard to imagine him having a deep religious revulsion to what goes on in a gay nightclub when he seemed to find it acceptable to spend a fair bit of time there himself. The reports don’t give the impression that he was evangelizing.]

It must be pointed out that there are pragmatic problems with this line of thinking, even if it had some hint of logical validity.

By Macdonald’s reasoning the only way to avoid such mass murders is to ensure that nobody, anywhere, ever, expresses any criticisms of, hesitations about, or religious references against, homosexuality. If you think that way, keep your thoughts to yourself or you might get somebody killed. Better yet, change your thinking. Get rid of any critical ideas you might have about homosexuality. Eliminate any hesitations from your mind. Accept, affirm, embrace and never question or criticize. Don’t even joke about them or dare to permit yourself to smile when somebody else jokes about them.

In short, if we could just all think exactly the same then nobody would ever disagree with anybody else, and there would be no more mass murders of this sort.

But why stop at homosexuality? He also covers feminism in his article; on what other subjects must we all conform our thinking? What other “unpopular” ideas must I excise from my thought life so that my thoughts of disagreement do not somehow inspire somebody else to stock up on ammo and blow away some demographic that I am not 100% affirming of? Let’s make that list and then all agree to think exactly the same way on the subjects listed. Disagreement is, frankly, uncivilized.

This idea that “everything will be grand if we all just agreed with each other” sounds great on paper, but smacks of profound naivety. In what parallel universe does everybody, everywhere, completely agree on everything? If not everything, at least all the major life issues that are likely to inspire serious disagreement and the occasional mass murder. Humans will never agree on everything, and the health of any civilization is measured not by the conformity of its members to one single way of thinking, but by the civility with which its members are able to handle the inevitable disagreements that come with being human. Conformity of belief is not the hallmark of healthy democracies, but is more reminiscent of George Orwell’s 1984. And this is a disturbing trajectory. Yesterday those on the political left tried to persuade us to conform our thinking to their particular political views, today they are taking the stronger position of blaming this bloodshed on our failure to conform to their political views, and tomorrow we’ll all be talking Newspeak with Big Brother watching over our shoulder just in case we utter any “hate speech.”

Or, Heaven forbid, even smile at the wrong time.


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