Kitten, Cat or Tiger — Part 4

[Start with Part 1, or go back to Part 2 or Part 3]

Okay, if war’s not your thing, how about this:

Did you know there’s a safe and easy way to prevent teen pregnancy? A way to lower the number of abortions?

It’s just this: Provide sex education. Make condoms and contraceptives available. Give teens the facts and the tools to accomplish the early-life goal of not getting pregnant.

If you tell teens where babies come from, and let them know that unexpected mommyhood and daddyhood will put a serious crimp in all those wild, youthful plans for being a jet-setting supermodel, or a motorcycle-riding vagabond off to see America, and then tell them how to prevent babies until they’re consciously READY to be mommies and daddies, they will tend, statistically, to make a greater percentage of informed, wise decisions on potential pregnancy. And have fewer abortions.

Is that a no-brainer? Well, shit YEAH.

But among the rankest foes of abortion in the U.S., that faction of conservative Christians who also drive around with bumper stickers that read “It’s a Child, Not a Choice!” and “You Can’t Be Both Pro-Abortion and Catholic” you will find virtually zero in equally fervent favor of the three best techniques — condoms, contraceptives and sex education — for achieving that goal.

Crazy.

And if it’s not war and abortion, here’s religion itself:

Harold Camping, leader of Christian broadcast ministry Family Radio Worldwide, calculated not long back that the world would end on May 21, 2011.

What can I say? This guy is so looney tunes that Warner Brothers should sue him for copyright infringement. Some of his followers couldn’t be satisfied with a simple bumper sticker.

The point of all this is that there’s a level of crazy built into our culture, and it appears to spring directly from the fact that we’re TRAINED to be crazy. To think in an irrational manner, and believe unbelievable things.

This isn’t some cultural accident, or just simple holdover ignorance from the time when we were flea-scratching upright beasts.

This is organized. This is deliberate. There is, in our society, an established, streamlined, all-pervasive and aggressive-as-hell institution – actually a collection of institutions – hell-bent on spreading the crazy.

We live in a society that features a Crazy School.

And Crazy School doesn’t just teach its own curriculum, it works to un-teach everything else — to squash all questions, all doubts, all competitors for the public podium.

This one institution – and it has no rivals in this mission, not anywhere in earth culture – is religion.

Not religion the fluffy kitten. Not religion the friendly cat that just occasionally scratches.

But religion the tiger, with its historically obvious teeth and claws: Lies, intimidation, subjugation, suppression, terror, torture, murder and war.

A tiger that is still with us, and has, as its fierce main mission, to get us to believe things that are unprovable, unsupportable, undefendable … but that somehow MUST be believed, supported and defended.

To believe the unprovable, unsupportable, indefensible is somehow the greatest of virtues. To doubt it is the vilest and most horrible of sins — a mortal threat to our own immortal souls.

Teach THAT to a whole people, for all of their history, and you create not just craziness for the individual, but profound misery, vast pain and ugliness, for hapless generations.

But the weird sort of reverse-miracle attendant on the whole thing is that the craziness is almost completely invisible to the people being crushed under it.

As long as everybody stays crazy, as long as you kill or discredit anyone who begins to edge toward sanity, the crazy can stay clamped down for lifetime after lifetime. For hundreds of years, thousands of years.

And so it has.

Occasional bright sparks of sanity have given us science, technology, medicine, reason itself. But those sparks, like diamonds in mud, still exist in a matrix of crazy that pervades, opposes or perverts just about every advance toward greater sanity.

Such that the technological wonders gifted to us by the sanity-sparks of science — radio, TV, computers, the web — are used as tools to spread the crazy.

Such that we can build landmines to blow the legs off children, and sleep well at night.

Such that the freedom to NOT have children is opposed by powerful voices right now, today, at the highest levels of American government.

Such that every major disaster in the world is followed by instantly-televised religious voices both blaming the victims and using the human horror as a sales pitch to grow more religion, more craziness.

Such that there are large numbers of us who accept that the world is ending soon, and that this is a GOOD thing, much to be desired.

Such that there are world-scale problems — population, for instance — that cannot even be spoken of in a public forum, without being shouted down by a ready chorus of crazies. “Why do you hate babies?? Why do you want humans to become extinct??”

And such that the spreading and consuming of this deadly craziness is seen – by most of us, still – as the most staunchly and violently defended HUMAN RIGHT.

And THAT, excuse me, is just plain nuts.

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  • http://criticallyskeptic-dckitty.blogspot.com Katherine Lorraine, Chaton de la Mort

    Awesome series of posts. I really enjoyed it, thank you. Religion had its claws in me for 13 years and in the end it more or less caused me to deny who I really was. I never was able to enjoy the life I should have had because my Christian upbringing refused to let me see the things about me.

    Re: Harold Camping – it was disturbing to watch him make the claim, but worse wasn’t that religious people by and large came out saying “he’s wrong, the idea of a rapture is silly.” It was that they came out saying “he’s wrong, [Bible verse] says that no one can know when God will return.” They’re still looking forward to the end of the world and have that gleeful schadenfreude over the fact people will suffer and die during it all.

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  • Beth

    And such that the spreading and consuming of this deadly craziness is seen – by most of us, still – as the most staunchly and violently defended HUMAN RIGHT

    Are you saying that freedom of religion should NOT be considered a human right?

    • Hank Fox

      Beth, it is, and has to be, a human right — in the world we live in, the world that religion helped us create.

      I’m saying I can imagine another world, something at least slightly better, where lying to large numbers of people in such a way that it causes them to suffer mentally-, physically- and financially-harmful delusions … might be slightly frowned upon.

      Also, as to this world, I just wish we were as fierce about defending the human right to a good education, or health care, or sex education.

      Here in the U.S. at least, given a choice of the right to indoctrinate people in the proper religion, or of having their other human rights fulfilled, there are people running for president right now who’d probably say the first is much more important.

      Now I’ll pose a question for you:

      Say you have a really poor country where there are lots of big churches. Given a choice of selling off, say, 8 out of 10 of the churches so that every kid in the country could go to school, and eat, or of letting them starve in ignorance but well supplied with soaring cathedrals … which would you choose?

      • Beth

        Thanks for answering my question so directly. I’m glad to hear that that religious freedom is a human right that you support. Fantasies about better worlds are fine. We all have them. It just wasn’t clear to me that was what you were talking about.

        I think your question is very leading. I would say to sell them particularly if I could assume the cathedrals would bring in enough funds to supply their needs for food, education and health care for long enough for them to be able to fulfill such needs for themselves.

        OTOH, if it would be more beneficial to turn them into tourist attractions because it would bring in more funds over the long haul as well as provide gainful employment for the natives, that might be a better course of action than simply selling them.

  • Timberwoof

    Beth, I htink you missed the point of the question. Which is more important to you, the fluffy-kitten niceness of beautiful cathedrals or the tiger meanness of letting kids starve (physically or intellectually)?

  • Eli M.

    I can’t agree with you more on this issue. People have been turning a blind eye to religion for years, and what’s worse is that I’ve met people who understand this very point and they just – don’t care. It doesn’t matter to some people that what they believe to be moral and factual and good, is not so.

  • Derek Nadler

    I really enjoyed your religion-feline analogy. It rings especially true to me because I can’t stand cats. I find them to be a highly disagreeable, irritating (literally – I’m allergic) and wholly disgusting genus of animals. In my somewhat bigoted opinion, “cats” are only good for one thing: comforting needy, stupid and/or insecure people. The same applies to religion.

    I think the analogy breaks down when you factor in the social elements. Unlike religious people, cats are seemingly solitary animals. They don’t typically hunt in packs. If cats really are planning world domination or destruction behind those sinister irises, they seem to be doing so alone rather than in a coordinated group effort. Cats seem to reproduce more slowly in litters of five or six at a time, versus the almost bacterial spread of religious ideology through evangelism and systematic indoctrination. (Digression: I’m reminded of an old joke about cats and Baptists. They both do it, you just can’t catch them…or so the punchline goes.)

    I find the raw power of the religious right to be absolutely terrifying. I’m terrified of the possibility that Rick Perry, a creationist polecat, or Michelle Bachmann, with her hate-filled hissing at homosexuals, could actually become President of the United States and transform the country into a theocracy. I dread their power to stand on the giant pulpit of Fox News and howl lies and misrepresentations to the feline masses until all the other cats are howling in sync. I’m afraid of them jumping on the chests of the global populace and sucking away our breath by fossil-fueling us straight to into global armageddon. I’m afraid of them stealthily pouncing on our constitutional rights with Patriot Acts, the Dept. of Homeland Security and closed-circuit surveillance. I hate the fact that the rest of us godless strays have to eat out of trash cans, while the corporate fat-cats fill up the economic litter box with a third digested can of Fancy Feast.

    I realize I’m blending religion and politics a bit here, but as of late the dividing line seems increasingly blurred to me.

    I’m encouraged a bit by the recent statistics that show atheists/agnostics/non-religious persons now represent roughly 15% of the population…~32 million is a huge voting bloc. The trouble is, atheists don’t seemingly congregate…we have no national sanctuaries for softball games or chili cookouts. Unlike theistic cats, non-theistic cats are seemingly more solitary, choosing to ignore the social traditions others and focus on our actualization as well-rounded human beings.

    I guess the most perplexing question for me is how to mobilize other non-theist people to get on board, get over their fear and and really start using our intelligence and collective bargaining powers to influence positive outcomes in both religion and politics. We just need a pulpit to stand on somehow. If we had a more effective means of mobilization, I think enough ants could take down a tiger. Your blog looks as though it could be a giant step in that direction. Thanks for that :)


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