Comment Of The Day: “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 3/5/2019: Knaves, Idiots, And Fools” [Item #6]

The Horror! It’s an outrage! Send it to Hell! Well, not Hell, exactly, because that would be acknowledging religion. OK, let me start again…

Ethics Alarms used to have its own in-house atheist activist, and this is one of the times that I miss him: he would undoubtedly have a fascinating rebuttal to this Comment of the Day. I’m old enough to remember when Madalyn Murray O’Hair was the most hated woman in America for challenging the Constitutionality of school prayer, and winning.  (Remind me to tell the story of the time I spoke to O’Hair on a call-in TV talk show, posing as God.) Although I have come to agree that she was right (she later said she wished she hadn’t raised the issue), it still seems to me that atheists are more obsessed with religion than most religious people are, and their passionate antipathy borders on the pathological. The SCOTUS case that sparked this COTD is a good example: is it really necessary to attack a nearly one hundred year old war memorial because the design is a cross?

Here is Steve-O-in NJ’s Comment of the Day on item #6 in the post, “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 3/5/2019: Knaves, Idiots, And Fools”:

This isn’t the first one of these cross lawsuits, as has been discussed here a few times, and it sure as the devil won’t be the last. The problem isn’t really even with atheism, at least as the title for those who never have believed or choose not to believe in any god or gods. The First Amendment’s about as clear as any law can be that no one here can be forced to believe or disbelieve anything. America is still over 70% religious, and those religious Americans are overwhelmingly Christian, though how strongly so is up for discussion. Those who belong to no particular religion vary almost as much as those who do, from people raised in whatever faith who just drifted away at some point in life and never went back, to those raised without any faith who just never bothered with it, to agnostics, who think the presence of God is beyond knowing, to those who think religion’s all a bunch of hooey and choose to have nothing to do with it. It’s a minority of non-believers who are actively hostile to religion, but, unfortunately, those are the ones that get all the press.

As someone who is at least nominally a Catholic, and as someone who strongly dislikes one particular faith (Islam) I will venture a guess that those who dislike religion generally feel and think about it the way I do about that one particular faith I dislike. We can also both marshal some arguments that sound compelling. I can say that Islamic thought is incompatible with the Western way of doing things, that their history is checkered and shows an unhealthy propensity to impose itself by violence, and that a lot of their holy scriptures are downright scary. However, those opposed to religion generally can also say that ancient religion generally isn’t compatible with a world of the internet and surgery and science, that religion doesn’t have the greatest history generally, and that most holy scriptures are problematic, including the Bible, which, at least in the Old Testament, got the most basic moral question, slavery, wrong. Of course all these arguments are simplistic as phrased, and aren’t so absolute when you look at them in more detail, but that takes time and thought. The difference is, though, if I speak out against Islam, (which I have) I have to tread carefully lest I be deemed a hater, while those who speak out against all religion are not deemed haters. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 3/5/2019: Knaves, Idiots, And Fools

Good Morning!

1. Stupid lawsuit update. The bitter ex-Ethics Alarms commenter now appealing the obvious ruling by a Massachusetts judge that his vindictive defamation suit against me continued his abuse of process by filing a spurious motion accusing me of contempt of court and perjury, and calling for sanctions.. It’s 100% baloney, but I still have to file an answer, thus wasting more of my time, which is the point. I’m debating whether to note in my opposition to the motion that the man is an asshole.

2. What an idiot, #1: You have been signed to a ridiculous contract by the Philadelphia Phillies, 13 years for $330 million dollars. You waited four months to do so, jamming up the careers and lives of dozens of lesser players because you really didn’t want to play there, and were determined to get a record setting amount. You know the city’s fans are dubious about your loyalty and commitment, though you have stated that you took such a long contract to demonstrate that commitment. Now you are being introduced to your new team, city and fan base after spending all of your career playing for one of their rival in the National League East, the Washington Nationals. Do you carefully plan out what you will say, when you have your turn at the microphone, knowing that one has only one chance to make a good first impression?

Not if you are Bryce Harper. Yesterday, at his press conference, he said that he wanted to bring a World Series title to Washington D.C.

It’s going to be a long 13 years. For everyone.

3.  What an idiot, #2: Special counsel Robert Mueller notified federal Judge Amy Berman Jackson that Roger Stone had sent  an Instagram post which containing a photo of Mueller under the words “Who framed Roger Stone,” despite Stone being under Jackson’s gag order barring him from speaking in public about Mueller’s team and its investigation.
Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “The Equal Voices Apology To LGBT Individuals”

I must admit, when my head topic scout Fred flagged the Equal Voices apology for the antipathy toward LGTB (or is it LBTG? Does it matter, if the letters still stand for the same things?) engendered by organized religion, I didn’t expect it to be controversial. As the comments revealed in due course, it was. Looking back deep into Ethics Alarms posts and even into the foggy past of the Ethics Scoreboard, I have tried to clarify the distinction between the moral rejection of homosexuality by those who are faithfully following a religion that still holds to ancient taboos, and those whose attitudes toward gays are rooted in irrational fear, gate and bigotry. Ethically, however, the distinction became hard to jutify. The harm is palpable, and the facts are clear. The religious tended to embrace false facts (no, homosexuals do not indoctrinate heterosexual children; no, same sex marriage does not threaten Western civilization; yes, gays are a likely to be decent, law-abiding, ethical people as anyone else) to avoid doubting their faith; the bigoted and hateful frequently used religion to justify their bigotry.  The Equal Voices apology, I believe, is just one more positive step towards full cultural acceptance of the sad truth that the treatment of gays was a mistake, based in ignorance, and no longer defensible on religious or any other grounds. Ethics evolves when morality does not; that’s what’s good, and unsettling, about ethics. Things we thought were right turn out to be wrong, and vice-versa. There’s no shame in that, unless one denies what is right in front of one’s face.

Now comes veteran Ethics Alarms commenter Pennagain with a general commentary sparked by the post, focusing not on LGBT bias but bias against the religious and irreligious.

Here is his Comment of the Day, on the post, The Equal Voices Apology To LGBT Individuals: Continue reading

Unethical Political Ad Of The Month: The Freedom From Religion Foundation

FFRF

If it accomplished nothing else, the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision is doing a dandy job of flushing out the bigots. First it was the feminists blaming the decision on the all-male majority…because, as we all know, only women can balance ethical and legal conflicts fairly and intelligently, and they are incapable of bias. This line of attack is gender bigotry, acceptable because, well, just because. Then Harry Reid, leader of the Senate majority, condemned the five justices whose analysis prevailed as white males, adding racial bias to the mix. Also stupidity, of course, since last I looked, Justice Thomas was still black. Then again, to hear Harry and his friends tell it, being a conservative and not folding up like a deck chair any time women or a minority group complains means that you must be white, meaning that you must be bigoted against women. That’s just what whites are like. And males. Says white male Harry Reid.

It’s a strange, strange world we live in, no doubt about that.

Now comes the Freedom From Religion Foundation with an ad published in the New York Times blaming the decision on the fact that the five justices in the majority were male and Roman Catholic. Anti-Catholic bigotry! I confess, I didn’t know what religion the justices were, because I don’t care. Do you? John Kerry is a Roman Catholic; so is Joe Biden. It never occurred to me to attribute their various decisions and policy determinations to their religion, or to presume that anyone’s religion is fair game for criticism. Ah, but this is blood politics as defined by today’s culture. The right people can use bigotry against deserving targets….you know. Conservatives. Continue reading

“How To Make An Unethical Apology” by Rev. David Brassfield, Apology Innovator

What Rev. Brassfield regards as "Christ-like"

What Rev. Brassfield regards as “Christ-like”

Apologies are fascinating, because they are so seldom honest, benign, sincere, and genuinely contrite. Rev. David Brassfield just submitted one that might serve as a classic in the category of backhanded, insincere, bilious apologies, and a useful template for high-placed jerks in search of inspiration.

Before revealing the good Reverend’s masterpiece, some background is in order. In the  wake of the deadly tornado that devastated the area around Oklahoma City,  Brassfield printed and distributed an attack on local atheist groups to parishioners  attending his Newalla Church of Christ, alleging that they proved their deficits in morality, character and community support by failing to join with various church groups in relief efforts.

He wrote in part,

“….They claim believers in God are blind and only they see the truth. But, in fact, they only see themselves. Helping others is beneath them. Ironically, they greatly resemble a religious group of Jesus’ day: the Jewish leaders, who talked a good game but did nothing. We should dread the day if those who reject God and the church Jesus built become a majority in this land. …If the “proof is in the pudding,” then those anti-God groups have left a bad taste in the world’s mouth. Thanks be to God that because of the love and sacrifice of his son, believers in God have felt compelled to come from all places to give of themselves freely.”

As Emily Litella would say, “Never mind!” The pastor was dead, dead wrong. Local atheist groups had organized, pitched in, and done their part to assist in relief efforts. A humble apology was called for. This is what Reverend produced. As usual, bolded and bracketed asides are me: Continue reading

Time For The Government To Say Good-Bye To Religious Holidays

I'd rather celebrate Ganesh's birthday than L. Ron Hubbard's, but that's just me.

South Brunswick, New Jersey schools have announced that they will henceforth close for two days every year in honor of…Diwali. Quick—what religion celebrates Diwali? The answer is the Hindu faith.

That does it, I think. The canary has officially croaked, and there is no way to sugar-coat it, not that anyone wants a sugar-coated dead canary anyway. State, local and national governments need to cut all ties with religious holidays now, before Americans who observe  Gantan-sai, Dia de los Reyes, Maghi, Timkat, Imbolc, L. Ron Hubbard birthday,  Ostara,  Khordad Sal, Ramayana,  Visakha Puja,  Declaration of the Bab, Ascension of Baha’u’llah and somebody’s god somewhere knows what else start suing every city council in sight, Bill O’Reilly starts screaming about the war on Christianity, and Michele Bachmann gives speeches about how everyone knows America is a Christian nation, because the Founders, you know, like Charles Dickens, Abraham Lincoln and Jerry Falwell, wanted it that way. Continue reading

Ethics Dunce: The American Cancer Society

According to the Foundation Beyond Belief, a secular charity “funded by atheists, freethinkers, and humanists,” the American Cancer Society has rejected its offer to raise up to a half million dollars for cancer research through the American Cancer Society‘s Relay for Life program. The ACS declined to allow the Foundation to field a national relay team, though every other non-profit that has applied has been allowed to participate.

Talk about “beyond belief”: I have a hard time accepting this story as true, though it is being reported by respectable sources. Why wouldn’t the Society, whose mission is to help those with cancer, including helping them by finding a cure, turn down any group’s generosity, as long as its donation wasn’t going to be raised through illegal means? Bank of America, CitiBank, Goldman Sachs, Wal-Mart and other companies whose reputation is hardly without tarnish are among the ACS’s listed donors…and as we know, a lot of the people who run these companies worship Mammon, not God. Continue reading