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PR case studies

Two quick case studies in public relations for the morally stunted and intellectually challenged.

1. If you feel your religious tradition has been slandered, falsely accused of promoting violence and the "command to spread by the sword the faith," then it's probably best not to respond to such remarks violently. Bombing churches tends not to be an effective way of convincing others that your religion has not become corrupted by the adoption of violent coercion as a means of spreading/defending the faith. It may, in fact, be counterproductive — reinforcing and providing evidence for the negative criticisms of your faith.

Also: If you're upset with something said by the Roman Catholic pontiff, then it makes no sense to take out this anger with violence against a 1,425-year-old Greek Orthodox church. That makes about as much sense as invading Iraq in retaliation for Sept. 11.

2. If you're a head of state advocating the use of torture, you're facing a difficult PR battle. Yours is a position that, frankly, I thought might be indefensible. After all, only an idiot with the slimmest comprehension of reality would think that torture was a useful, practical tool. And only a monster would consider it an acceptable option. It's a reprehensible and useless tactic, proven over the millennia to be merely an impotent game played by bored sadists who have run out of ideas. So initially I was at a loss as to how to promote your position.

But then I read this advertisement for torture by Associated Press reporter Nedra Pickler. Pickler's insight is the need to disassociate torture from its obvious connection to small-penised, impotent perverts. Pro-torture advocates, she realized, will therefore need to portray the tactic as "manly" and "macho." Pickler artfully displays this approach in her latest AP dispatch:

it is unclear whether Congress can quickly pass legislation authorizing aggressive methods against terrorist detainees, as President Bush wants. …

Bush says CIA personnel should be able to resume tough interrogation techniques to extract information from detainees.

These are the key words — "aggressive," "tough." Continue to employ them as Pickler does and the public may be distracted from the fact that you're a frightened, clueless pervert.

  • Jeff

    If you’re the head of a major religion, saying that another religion has only brought forth “evil and inhumanity”, and then apologizing “if anyone was offended” (we’ve talked about how weasly that is, haven’t we?) is rather noxious. Especially if violence from your own church is relatively recent (IRA and probably the ETA).
    I’m not saying that violence (especially in response to being called violent) is right, but the Pope is a dumb-ass.

  • bulbul

    Right on, Jeff. My initial response to Pope’s words was “What the fruity fish? The head of the Catholic church is chastising someone for using the ‘by fire and sword’ method of proselytizing? Beam in your own eye, anyone?” What an idiot.
    Then again, Fred is absolutely right. Torching a church, that’s the way to go, fuckers.

  • Jon Rosebaugh

    Sure, except the Pope wasn’t actually saying that. He was quoting a Byzantine emperor’s book. Emperor Manuel II Paleologus, writing in 1391, was the person who mentioned Mohammed, in the course of making a point that spreading religion by the sword is contrary to reason and contrary to God’s will. The Pope was supporting that argument of Manuel, not his opinions on Islam.
    It’s becoming abundantly clear that very few people have actually read the Pope’s lecture, not even the short bit that is supposedly so offensive.

  • bulbul

    disassociate torture from its obvious connection to small-penised, impotent perverts
    Hey, I resent that!

  • bulbul

    Oh I assure you, Jon, I have read that short bit. And there are a quite few things the Pope is wrong about.

  • Patrick

    The other “active” word they use is “risk” or “risky” as if torturing someone was akin to tracking Al-Qaida sharpshooters through the mountains of Afghanistan. I wrote about this very same topic on my blog a couple days back (http://www.didjuneau.com/fishreadhead.php?UID=642).
    Director Michael V. Hayden of the CIA claimed that he “wants to protect the people who work for him” and who take risks to “help keep all Americans safe.”
    Take risks? How is holding someone’s head underwater risky? Unless, of course you forgot to tie him up first…

  • Jeff

    Jon Rosebaugh:
    Sure, except the Pope wasn’t actually saying that. He was quoting a Byzantine emperor’s book. Emperor Manuel II Paleologus, writing in 1391, was the person who mentioned Mohammed, in the course of making a point that spreading religion by the sword is contrary to reason and contrary to God’s will. The Pope was supporting that argument of Manuel, not his opinions on Islam.
    Sadly, no. There are tons of examples of “violent conversion” he could have picked from. He chose one, by accident, stupidity or purpose, that attacked all members of another religion. And the “he was only quoting” doesn’t wash, either. If I quote George Wallace, his words become mine until I use them to show how wrong he is. That’s not what the Pope did.

  • L

    Risk — Ever see Shrek?
    “Some of you may die…. But it’s a risk I am willing to take!” Same kinda thing.
    A blogging Catholic priest puts Benedict’s remarks into some context here.

  • bulbul

    He chose one, by accident, stupidity or purpose, that attacked all members of another religion.
    Not to mention that instead of saying whatever it was he wanted to say, he chose to to quote from a medieval polemic. And these are not notorious for their objectivity.

  • bulbul

    L: from the article you linked to:
    In fact, Benedict actually takes the time to cite the Koranic verse that “there is no compulsion in religion” as a warning against simplistic assertions that Islam is essentially violent and opposed to freedom.
    WTF?
    The Pope quotes the verse, then tries to explain that this verse originated when Muhammad was still powerless (which it did not) and that the verses concerning jihad came about when Muhammad rose to power. The Pope doesn’t quote the verse to say “look how peaceful islam is”, quite the contrary. He brought up the whole story as an example of what he had recently learned. Turns out he’s not a very good student.
    Go read Cole’s take on this. Pretty much sums up the whole issue. Except for one thing: it seems like the Pope confuses the history of Christianity with the history of Islam. Spreading belief by sword and fire was an invention of Christianity. Byzantians could tell you stories. Islam started emulating that practice with the arrival of the Turks. And even then, the Muslims were never as hostile to other religions as the Christians. Think Rindfleisch massacres 1298 or the expulsion of Jews from the Iberian peninsula 1492 (most of whom sought refuge in the Ottoman Empire) while Maimonides and Bar-Hebraeus lived, wrote and worshipped freely under the green flag of Islam.

  • David

    If I quote George Wallace, his words become mine until I use them to show how wrong he is.
    So… in the context of a lecture, while talking about a historical document, you must believe everything in the document being discussed unless you specifically use the words of the document to show it is wrong?
    If you actually read the lecture from the beginning, in the preceding paragraph he quotes, without evident disapproval, an academic from that school saying that they had two departments devoted to something that doesn’t exist (God). I’d like someone to explain to me why the quote that was related to Islam must have been his own opinion, while the quote about there being no God was merely a quote.
    Not to mention that instead of saying whatever it was he wanted to say, he chose to to quote from a medieval polemic. And these are not notorious for their objectivity.
    He acknowledges the probable bias in the text, and his point was only incidentally related to the polemic. Its objectivity in any case is not really related to his point, since he was only discussing a particular aspect of the reasoning used, and not trying to justify the statements being made.
    The head of the Catholic church is chastising someone for using the ‘by fire and sword’ method of proselytizing? Beam in your own eye, anyone?
    As far as I’m aware, the head of the Catholic church has also chastised the Catholic church’s historical behavior along those lines. The Catholic church hardly ever starts wars these days. Are you trying to say that it is inappropriate for the leader of an organization that has ever committed a particular sin to speak against that sin? And, in any case, he wasn’t doing it to chastise anyone, and wasn’t speaking of moderm muslims, he merely said that forced conversion by violence is wrong (and, again, this wasn’t really his point anyway). Do you disagree? If not, what’s the big deal?

  • bulbul

    So I went and read the whole thing in the original (’cause I really don’t feel like working). Turns out the Pope’s lecture is full or rather questionable comments. One strikes me as particularly weird: the Pope claims that “the biblical belief stood in sharp contrast to the hellenistic rulers who wanted to force the adaptation to the Greek lifestyle and their polytheistic belief”. Hm. Any Classicists in the house? Because I’m no expert and I’d say this is bullshit.

  • Jeff

    The Catholic church hardly ever starts wars these days.
    “What, never.”
    “No, never!”
    “What, never.”
    “Well, hardly ever!”
    Then give three cheers and one cheer more for the peaceful Pontiff of the Pinafore! (And don’t say “IRA” too loud.)

  • bulbul

    He acknowledges the probable bias in the text
    No, he doesn’t. Nowhere in the lecture.
    he merely said that forced conversion by violence is wrong
    No, he didn’t. He quoted a Byzantinian Emperor who said so.
    Ah, but he didn’t speak against that sin. He uses this rather questionable historical example to … I’m not sure what. And in the course of this, he manages to misrepresent the Quran and Islam on more than three counts.
    And there’s always the hypocrisy alarm.

  • bulbul

    Jeff, to be fair, IRA is not a good example.

  • Seth Gordon

    The Pope quoted the emperor as saying “Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached”. This is diametrically opposed to the Islamic doctrine that (if I understand correctly) the whole reason God revealed the Koran to Mohammed was that the Christians and Jews had screwed up the transmission of His word. I don’t see how any Muslim, regardless of his or her position on violence, could avoid seeing this as an insult. Reading–well, skimming–the whole speech, I also can’t help noticing that the critique of Islam quoted there is far more pungent than anything the Pope goes on to say about Judaism, paganism, the Protestant Reformation, or modern liberal theology.
    If the Pope didn’t intend his words to be a slam against Islam in particular, then he really needs to find some Jesuit to edit his speeches. If Cardinal Ratzinger didn’t want to worry about how he would be quoted out of context, he shouldn’t have accepted the tall pointy hat.
    (No, I don’t think burning churches is an appropriate response from the Islamic side.)

  • L

    Bulbul, I just want to ensure I understand your point — what stories could Byzantines tell?

  • Duane

    Bulbul, I just want to ensure I understand your point — what stories could Byzantines tell?
    ..the Byzantines were perhaps the most successful at Christianizing at the point of a sword..

  • bulbul

    L:
    I was referring to the Fourth Crusade. Although the sacking of Constantinopole and related atrocities were not officially sanctioned by the Pope, to many of Crusaders, fighting the Greeks meant fighting heretics in the name of “true Christianity”.

  • L

    OK, I do understand you then — and I quite agree. Although I always thought that was less about conversion than booty. The treasury of San Marco in Venice is still rich with loot. Some of it toured American museums about 20-25 years ago. Astonishing.
    Duane, I’m acutally hard-pressed to come up with a specific example of what you’re talking about.

  • Beth

    If you’re upset with something said by the Roman Catholic pontiff, then it makes no sense to take out this anger with violence against a 1,425-year-old Greek Orthodox church.
    Well, here in the US, Sikhs were attacked in revenge for 9/11. At least those guys in Gaza City got the religion right, if not the denomination.
    I’m confused by reactions on both sides here. I can certainly sympathize with Muslim anger over this thing but why such violent anger (and in a few cases, actual violence)? Are they outraged by the insult to Islam and its prophet, or by perceived papal support for a “crusade” against Muslims? Do they expect to frighten the Vatican into submission, or are they just blowing off steam? Is it spontaneous or are the people being whipped into a frenzy, and if the latter, by whom?
    And what’s up with Benedict? I could perhaps explain away his initial failure to repudiate the insult as the mistake of a scholar who didn’t realize how broad and unscholarly his audience would be, but I can find no excuse for his failure to repudiate it once that error in judgement became obvious. Why didn’t he respond immediately by contrasting the quote with current Catholic opinion on Islam? (I don’t know exactly what the current opinion is, but it’s bound to be a big improvement over the quoted slur.) Could it be that he doesn’t want to be seen to be backing down in the face of violence? Is he unwilling to admit that he made a mistake? Could he possibly be unbothered by this growing tension between Islam and Catholicism/Christianity? I just don’t get it.

  • bulbul

    Beth,
    Are they outraged by the insult to Islam and its prophet, or by perceived papal support for a “crusade” against Muslims?
    From the chit-chat around the watercooler, it’s mostly the latter.
    Is it spontaneous or are the people being whipped into a frenzy, and if the latter, by whom?
    It depends. Probably the latter in Egypt, where the outrage was led by the Muslim Brethren. And the same case in Palestine, where I suspect anti-Hamas groups (whatever they call themselves this week) were responsible for the burning of the church just to stir up trouble for the government.
    Could he possibly be unbothered by this growing tension between Islam and Catholicism/Christianity?
    I’m very much afraid he is bothered by the tension and he feels he must take a stand. Protecting the Western Civilization, safeguarding our values against whoever blah blah blah.

  • bulbul

    Although I always thought that was less about conversion than booty.
    Two birds with one stone. Plus, someone’s gotta pay for the invasion. The invaded are always the first choice :o)

  • bulbul

    Although I always thought that was less about conversion than booty.
    There is one very important thing to consider here:
    fighting the heretics was rarely about conversion. Remember, back in the Middle Ages, your life wasn’t worth squat. It was the soul that mattered. We all know the words “Kill them all, the Lord will sort his own”. Originally uttered during the crusade against the Cathars, they were repeated and acted upon in Constantinople, Prague and Riga. It’s hard to guess the motives of all those who took part in all those crusades, but the religious element was always present.

  • Jeff

    bulbul:
    Jeff, to be fair, IRA is not a good example.
    Why not? Are they not Catholic? Are they not violent? Their main goal may not have been conversion, but they’re a case of pretty recent Catholic violence.

  • Jeff

    BTW, no points for “The Pontiff of the Pinafore”? [sad, now]

  • Jesurgislac

    Beth: I could perhaps explain away his initial failure to repudiate the insult as the mistake of a scholar who didn’t realize how broad and unscholarly his audience would be
    He isn’t “just a scholar”, Beth. Before he was Pope, he was head of the Inquisition.

  • Ray

    I don’t think the IRA are a good example, because they weren’t motivated by religion, and their goals weren’t religious. Might as well argue that the Mafia are an example of Catholic violence because hey, they’re Catholics, or that the Iraq war is just like the Crusades because… actually, let me get back to you on that one.

  • bad Jim

    Even Sam Harris, the arch-atheist, kicks us liberals around for our failure to fear Islam.
    Were I more cynical I’d just point to the calendar and note that it’s election season.

  • bulbul

    Jeff:
    what Ray said.

  • ajay

    Especially if violence from your own church is relatively recent (IRA…
    This is a bad example. The IRA had no specifically religious goals. While it was supported by some individual Catholic priests (as by members of other professions) it was not supported by the Church as a whole, or by a majority of Church officials. The IRA’s ideologues were the nationalist socialists of Sinn Fein, not theologians. In as much as “Catholic” appeared in the political vocabulary of Northern Ireland, it was used as a method of tribal identification.
    Or, to summarise:
    Sources of support for the IRA’s terrorist campaigns:
    The USA
    Nazi Germany
    Libya
    Not sources of support:
    The Vatican
    OK?

  • AmericanJesus

    I suppose measuring the entire Moslem response to the Pope by a small group of hotheads in Gaza and Egypt is equal to measuring the Black response to the Rodney King video by the rioters in LA.
    Worked for white America then, so I don’t see why it won’t work for us now.

  • AmericanJesus

    Its interesting that in the same speech the pope also attacks science and makes a veiled attack on Protestantism
    “Before I draw the conclusions to which all this has been leading, I must briefly refer to the third stage of dehellenization, which is now in progress. In the light of our experience with cultural pluralism, it is often said nowadays that the synthesis with Hellenism achieved in the early Church was a preliminary inculturation which ought not to be binding on other cultures.
    The latter are said to have the right to return to the simple message of the New Testament prior to that inculturation, in order to inculturate it anew in their own particular milieux. This thesis is not only false; it is coarse and lacking in precision.”
    Ratzi was said to be a religious ultra-conservative and the Popes ‘enforcer’… could he be testing the waters for some sort of aggressive catholic revival?

  • Ray

    (I’m not claiming that there aren’t recent examples of Catholic violence, incidentally. The Falangists were explicitly Catholic, and if you want an Irish example there’s the Blueshirts, who might have been dangerous if they weren’t pathetic. More dangerous, and more recent, were the Phalange in Lebanon. Though maybe aunursa will be along to tell us that the Phalange never did anything to be ashamed of, they were only defending themselves against Islamofascists, as is everyone’s right)

  • Mark Z.

    The latter are said to have the right to return to the simple message of the New Testament prior to that inculturation, in order to inculturate it anew in their own particular milieux. This thesis is not only false; it is coarse and lacking in precision.
    Is it just me, or is that last sentence an extremely arrogant criticism? “Not only are you wrong, but you’re failing to state your point clearly.” He sounds like Rush Limbaugh: he hears three words out of your mouth, he already knows the rest of what you’re going to say and why it’s wrong, and he berates you for taking so long to finish saying it so he can refute it.
    What’s Latin for “Jane, you ignorant slut”?

  • bellatrys

    Likewise, if you want to prove the superiority of Christianity/Western rationality/Enlightement principles, bombing the hell out of someone innocent just to show you can as the ostensible reason and killing tens upon tens of thousands of civilians and maiming countless more, not to mention all the ones killed indirectly due to the other Horsemen who accompany war, plus all the ones killed due to our aerial siege over the past decade-plus, is probably not the best way to go about it. Nor the decades of prior propping-up of dictators back to the 20s, all around the Mediteranean and the prior heritage of the Raj including such things as the instigation/material support of the Egyptian invasion of the Sudan by the British, something we are seeing the repercussions of to this day, all in the name of superior Western Christian Civilization.
    It’s not like this happens in a vacuum in which none of the US/UK/Canadian/Australian (and passive assistance by Ireland etc) actions have had any hand in making the situation what it is…

  • bellatrys

    In as much as “Catholic” appeared in the political vocabulary of Northern Ireland, it was used as a method of tribal identification.
    And your point is?
    I take it you’re not a student of world history *or* contemporary politics… (No, reading Belloc doesn’t count.)

  • straight

    Do a search with Google of Amnesty International’s website looking for religious persecution. How many cases can you find of Christian nations using violence to repress and restrict non-Christians? How many cases can you find of Muslim nations using violence to repress and restrict non-Muslims?
    You might question whether there are any “Christian” nations. Which would be another way of making my point. In many nations where Islam is the majority religion, it is the only option tolerated by the government. Not so in nations where Christianity is the majority religion.
    Regardless of what the Catholic Church has done in the past, ask yourself who today most needs the message that you shouldn’t use violence to make people adhere to your religion.

  • bulbul

    Though maybe aunursa will be along to tell us that the Phalange never did anything to be ashamed of, they were only defending themselves against Islamofascists, as is everyone’s right
    *checking his watch rather impatiently*
    What’s Latin for “Jane, you ignorant slut”?
    Lemme see…
    Johanna, t? meretrice stultæ!
    (OK, it’s more like “Jane, you stupid whore” and I’m not sure about the “tu”…)
    In many nations where Islam is the majority religion, it is the only option tolerated by the government.
    Please name them. Because I can only think of one and this particular one is ruled by a radical sect which is even suspicious and intolerant of other muslims. Name it.
    Also, do the terms “people of the book” ring any bell?

  • Beth

    He isn’t “just a scholar”, Beth.
    I never said he was “just a scholar”, Jesurgislac.
    Before he was Pope, he was head of the Inquisition.
    He was Chief Inquisitor under John Paul II, but, unless he’s much older than he looks, he couldn’t have been involved in the Inquisition.
    He was, however, the guy who told American bishops to deny Kerry communion in a bold move to influence the presidential election. It makes me wonder if the effect this unrest might have on US mid-term elections wasn’t part of the equation. This would fit well with Bulbul’s suggestion that “he feels he must take a stand. Protecting the Western Civilization, safeguarding our values against whoever…” It’s a little frightening to think that the Muslim world is so quick to interpret incidents like this as signs of growing support for a “crusade” against them. It’s even more frightening to think that they might not be entirely wrong.
    ask yourself who today most needs the message that you shouldn’t use violence to make people adhere to your religion.
    Doesn’t that just make the pope’s words that much more deplorable? As Eric Muller wrote:
    Think of it this way. I might detest your wife’s cooking. And I might wish to say in public that her sauces are horrid. But what would you think if I put it this way: “As the fourteenth-century chef Julius Puer put it, ‘your wife is a slut and a harlot; she is as loose with her body as she is with her sauces?’” I think you’d be pissed off. You probably wouldn’t be in much of a mood for a thorough and careful debate about saucemaking.

  • Drama Queen

    I have a funny and thoughtful Phillies blog that I think you will enjoy. Come check it out at http://pabaseball.blogspot.com
    Hope to see you there, and keep spreading the Philly love!

  • L

    Bulbul — sorry for coming back to this so late.
    “fighting the heretics was rarely about conversion.” — No, of course not. But I’m not so sure religion had anything to do with it in any meaningful way. Such things were often justified on religious grounds, often after the fact — but the aggressors had to morally rationalize their actions somehow. That there was a set of religious arguments that could be made seems to me a mere convenience.
    As to the “Hellenistic rulers”, Benedict is doubtless referring to the events surrounding Maccabees I and II. It was scarcely necessary to attempt to force a polytheistic religion anywhere else but in Judah. This may not be universally accepted as canonical scripture, but there’s no reason to suppose it’s not reasonably accurate as history.

  • the opoponax

    uh, L, remember the crusades, at all? what were they if not religious wars fought almost purely on spiritual grounds, instigated by men in the very position Benedict now inhabits? it’s not like western rite christians started raiding Turkey and the leaders of the day justified it with religion. there was no conflict until the Pope up and decided to declare a holy war.
    also, while most colonial wars weren’t faught solely on the basis of christianizing the heathens, it would be tough to argue that all those nonwestern populations converted of their own free choice. ESPECIALLY indigenous Americans in Latin America and the Southwest. and of course there were many factors motivating such brutality. but it’s not like Cortez called up some jesuits and said, “hey, um, we’re kinda swamped with all this mass murder over here. maybe you guys should start up some kind of religious genocide?”
    oh, and what about the Jews living under the Spanish Inquisition? Convert, be exiled, or die, was it? gee, no religious violence inherent there…

  • L

    Erm, I think it was a tad more complex than that. Had it been simply a project of “liberating” the Holy Land for religious reasons, the more defensible thing to do would have been to return it to the still-extant Christian power with a claim to it, i.e. the Emperor in Constantinople in response to whose call for aid they were theoretically marching. Instead, the Crusaders set up their own kingdoms and fiefs. Looks like a land grab to me. Sure, Pope Urban promised the Crusaders a free ride through Purgatory. He also promised them a land flowing with milk and honey. As a side effect, there followed an unprecedented period of political stability in Western Europe.
    There was no practical purpose to the Crusades other than that. Pilgrimage was not obstructed. The destruction of the Church of the Resurrection was an anomaly and it had been at least partially rebuilt; and the Caliphate hadn’t forbidden further work.
    I am not saying that forced conversions never happened; obviously they did. But the Spanish Inquisition had a number of motivations, only part of which was religious. As with everything else, one would do well to follow the money. As for the indigenes of the Americas — let’s be honest, would the Europeans have been there at all if not for the gold and available land? It’s absurd to think they conquered a continent for the sole purpose of making new converts.

  • bulbul

    But I’m not so sure religion had anything to do with it in any meaningful way. Such things were often justified on religious grounds, often after the fact — but the aggressors had to morally rationalize their actions somehow.
    I wonder whether you’d ready to apply the same logic to the actions of adherents of a certain other monotheistic religion (hint: green, crescent) and whether you would reach the same conclusion…
    In any case:
    1. It’s not an either-or situation.
    2. The one important thing to consider is the mindset of the people who set out on a Crusade and people in Medieval times in general.
    One often hears today’s Muslims being compared to Christians in Medieval times. A local pundit* once told me this was nonsense, since those people live in the same year as we do and use the same technology we do. In my opinion, he is missing the point (as he usually does): it’s not about calendar, it’s about values and beliefs. Medieval people believed, as (most? some?) Muslims still do and all Christians should, that the salvation of your soul was the only thing that mattered. Crusades were one of the most advertized ways to salvation.
    You say: It’s absurd to think they conquered a continent for the sole purpose of making new converts. That’s assuming they acted rationally, analyzed cost and benefit. Did they? I’m sure there were some who saw the whole affair as an opportunity for making a quick grosh/gulden/taler. But were they the majority?
    As a side effect, there followed an unprecedented period of political stability in Western Europe.
    What stability are you referring to?
    * May his next shit be square, may his ass itch and his hands be so short he couldn’t scratch it, may all his cds be scratched right where his favorite songs are, may all his cigars come from the Dominican Republic…
    Lord forgive me, I really hate that fuck.

  • bulbul

    all Christians should, that the salvation of your soul was the only thing that mattered
    Oy gevalt, got on a tricky theological ground there…
    Strike “all Christins should” from my previous remarks.

  • Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little

    May his next shit be square, may his ass itch and his hands be so short he couldn’t scratch it….Notice to bulbul: I am stealing this. Don’t try to stop me. Nothing will stand between me and the pleasure of saying it of my worst enemy.
    Notice to self: Acquire a worst enemy.

  • Noah Brand

    “…the public may be distracted from the fact that you’re a frightened, clueless pervert.”
    Speaking as a frequently clueless but unabashedly unfrightened pervert, I resent being two-thirds associated with the cowardly weaklings of the Bush administration. Favoring torture is not a sign of perversion, it’s a sign of being a quivering coward trying to hide behind violence in a desperate and doomed attempt to conceal your own moral weakness. Believe me, being a pervert is a LOT more fun…

  • bulbul

    Nicole,
    I stole it from someone else. What comes around goes around, I guess :o)

  • the opoponax

    why is it that when we speak of violence in the name of Christianity, we explain it away by saying that the motivations were complex, etc, but ANY violence that is in any way religiously motivated by any Muslim at all anywhere is proof positive that Islam is an inherently violent religion?
    sure, L, you’re right. there are a great many shades of grey involved when discussing the many, many violent religious conflicts in Christian history. not every soldier on every battlefield (or every conquistador, every inquisator, etc etc) was there specifically because he himself felt that it was his duty to commit violence in the name of Christ. HOWEVER. what we can be sure of is that many such conflicts were initiated from the get-go explicitly for religious reasons. you can use as much hypothetical video game shoulda-woulda-coulda strategy as you want. the bald truth of the matter is that, hello, the crusades were about religion, and a great many people were slaughtered on the basis of their faith. because that was the whole point of the exercize. is that a tough thing to face as a Christian and a westerner? sure. but to explain it away as a war for territory or greed or whatever is quite plainly a lie.


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