Penn Jillette On Tolerant Christians, Faith, And Media Bias

From Vanity Fair:

I think that said more about the Islamic group that made death threats against Trey and Matt than it does about Comedy Central. I believe very much that the most damning thing you can say about Muslims is that you’re afraid to say anything because they’ll hurt you.

As opposed to other religions?

I will forever stick up for Catholics and Christians in general. With a small number of very horrible exceptions, they do play by the rules.

That’s a curious sentiment from somebody who’s gone out of his way to make fun of religion.

I do believe that a belief in god is crazy, but that doesn’t mean that the people who believe in it are crazy. Those are two different things. Ideas can be stupid and crazy and the people who hold those ideas are not necessarily stupid and crazy.

You’ve said that you’re beyond atheism. What does that mean?

I have trouble believing that other people believe. (Laughs.)

You think they’re lying?

I’m sure they’re not lying. Their belief may be genuine. But it’s like arguing that fairies are coming out of my toaster in the middle of the night. You can’t prove to me that there aren’t fairies in my toaster, but that doesn’t mean you should take me seriously. What I have a problem with is not so much religion or god, but faith. When you say you believe something in your heart and therefore you can act on it, you have completely justified the 9/11 bombers. You have justified Charlie Manson. If it’s true for you, why isn’t it true for them? Why are you different? If you say “I believe there’s an all-powerful force of love in the universe that connects us all, and I have no evidence of that but I believe it in my heart,” then it’s perfectly okay to believe in your heart that Sharon Tate deserves to die. It’s perfectly okay to believe in your heart that you need to fly planes into buildings for Allah.

Do you think Bullshit is fair and balanced?

We’re very, very fair and very, very biased. (Laughs.) Which is what I want from all media, by the way. I want the anchor on the nightly news to come on and say, “I hate President Obama… and here’s the news.” All this whimpering in the press about how we shouldn’t have news that’s partial and subjective, it misses the point completely. It was (newspaper magnate William Randolph) Hearst that invented the idea that journalism should be in the middle. It was never like that before. It was the Ohio Democrat and the Minnesota Republican. They said it right in their titles. And then Hearst decided he could sell twice as many papers if he pretended that they didn’t have a position. And of course that’s always a lie.

For more, including his views on Iraq and his reasons for going on Glenn Beck’s show, read the whole interview.

Your Thoughts?

  • http://atheists-and-christians.blogspot.com/ Mike AKA MonolithTMA

    Great interview. Thanks for sharing. I find myself agreeing with a lot of what Penn Jillette says.