The Pope’s left us alone now, and the protest march is over. A comprehensive summary of the event, reportedly attended by 12,000 people, has been written up Noodlemaz, and it all sounds to have gone rather well. Benny Sixteen himself won’t have been swayed on anything, but the very real opposition to his dangerous and misguided policies was expressed, and a lot of people will have gotten to hear about why so many others find him objectionable, and perhaps been prompted to reconsider their own position.
But some people still don’t like all these people standing up and expressing their dismay at the evil actions of this global institution. And Daily Mail wankery aside, this piece in particular just pisses me off.
I tweeted earlier:
People continue to be more loudly outraged at the people getting cross about child abuse than at the people abusing children. Bewildering.
Which sums it up as well as I could manage in 140 characters. This is not the only lengthy, angry, disparaging diatribe I’ve seen online which talks about how “bigoted” all these atheists are, with much more fervour than it employs to decry the sexual abuse of children which has gotten these angry atheists so angry in the first place.
I think it’s the lack of perspective that’s most frustrating. It’s not just that the author disagrees with Richard Dawkins about something, it’s that this is apparently the most important thing to him about the whole business. The “glee” with which Catholicism is being attacked is what he’s “not comfortable with”, while the fact that thousands of children have been raped is breezed over in a cursory nine-word sentence in an introductory paragraph, with an air of tired impatience.
Yes yes, alright, the Catholic church has done some appallingly inhuman things – but never mind that now, some atheists are being smug…
It’s still the cry of “smug” which is made against these deplorable, militant atheists with the most vitriol, as if the accuser could imagine nothing worse than a snooty attitude.
And yet the exact same self-assured smarminess is no less evident in those attempting to distance themselves from the “New Atheist” movement. All they seem able to do is sneer contemptuously at the people who actually have something to say, and are getting together to make themselves heard. Dismissive terms like “media luvvies” means he doesn’t even have to consider whether they might possess any valid arguments, from up on his high horse.
See how easy it is to make someone you disagree with sound like a twat by using ugly words like “sneering” and “smarmy” to describe what they do? I was being disingenuous there – the author of the post isn’t noticeably more smug than anyone else blogging snippily about something that’s annoyed them (hello!). But throwing that kind of word around is an effective and lazy way to make it seem like what your opponent’s saying isn’t that important, because their tone should be enough to make you dislike and disagree with them.
There are a lot of simply bad arguments in the middle of all this, too. If similar accusations were made against another group, we’re told – say, if “Catholics” was substituted for “Muslims” or “Jews” – it would likely come across as “Islamophobic, anti-semitic and downright racist”.
Well, perhaps. If you apply a derogatory term to a minority group, of course it has a different impact than when the target is a dominant force around the world. That’s just how language works.
A black person called me a “honky” once. I was outraged. If the roles were reversed and you simply substituted “honky” for “nigger”, people would have said I was racist.
My point being, it’s not a ridiculous double-standard when the cases you’re comparing are entirely different. Last I checked, neither Muslims nor Jews were running an immensely influential global institution that’s systematically covered up child abuse among its ranks.
Moreover, the criticism against the Pope is said to be largely “framed… in terms of the so-called ‘New Atheism'”. You must have been watching a very different set of protests than I was if you really think they were driven by any kind of atheism more than, say, the fact that our government is tacitly (or perhaps outright) endorsing an organisation than has repeatedly protected its members from justice for the abuse of thousands of children over the course of decades.
Which still sounds to me like a bigger problem than the attitudes of some non-believers who aren’t touching anyone’s kids.
I know I’m harping on this point, but I kinda feel like this point is worth harping on about.
And when the author cites some examples of anti-papal bigotry, it makes me wonder if I should try explaining the concept of humour from first principles. “Now, look at this line here: ‘I hate the Pope; the Pope’s folks grope’. This is a reference to a popular phrase that… oh, never mind.” If anything, jokes like “Abstinence makes the Church grow fondlers” are treating child abuse with inappropriate jocularity, and go far too easy on criminals who ought to be locked up.
He even cites this BBC article as an example of the irrational anti-Catholic hatred he so deplores, indicating that he clearly either hasn’t read it or has trouble understanding what words mean. It quite carefully lays out the Protest The Pope campaign’s criticisms of the Vatican’s policies, and everyone quoted in it is entirely reasonable in their care to target these policies and not every single member of the Catholic church.
And towards the end it just gets weird. He’s just as displeased about the “arbiters of political and moral rectitude who had a field day condemning people who thought Raoul Moat was ‘a legend’, were quick to castigate BNP voters in the European elections”, and so on.
I’m firstly perplexed at this use of the term “arbiters of political and moral rectitude” being used in such a derogatory fashion. Remember, kids: publicly expressing your opinion on the morality of other people’s actions is bad and you should feel bad. Obviously this blogger would never go so far as to call other people’s actions morally misguided, bigoted, or… oh.
But also, what exactly is your problem with these arbiters expressing the view that Raoul Moat was not, in fact, a “legend”? He shot three people, and not in any kind of self-defence. He may deserve sympathy for some kind of mental problems he may have suffered from, but criticising a loving memorial website maintained by his “fans” is wrong how? And criticising atheists yourself in exactly the same tone isn’t hypocritical why?
I’m honestly not against the idea of legitimate criticism against Dawkins, or the protest movement. I’ve disagreed with the man before, and there may well be ways the campaign could improve the effectiveness of its message, or adjust its tone. But I’ve not heard any of that from articles like this one. It’s all just whining about how terrible and obnoxious these atheists are being, the way they give a fuck about things like child abuse and are taking a stand against it. The cunts.