It is according to Brendan O’Neill. In The Telegraph he writes that the “hounding” of Sally Morgan, supernatural adviser and dead-person telephone, is reaching the fever-pitch of the historical witch hunts. “Decent society once hounded witches; now it hounds pseudo-witches,” he asserts. Indeed, “the anti-Morgan lobby is motivated by the same impulses as those of pointy-hatted witch-hunters of old”. What’s interesting is his list compared to what both sides – witch hunters of the past and O’Neill’s of today – wrote or described of their own actions for pursuing their “witches”.
So this happened. I’ll summarise what I’m focused on in the blogpost itself if you don’t want to read all of that (oh no, reading! *hiss*!).
Basically, an atheist…
lodged a consumer complaint against a billboard for River’s Church located on its premises in Sandton [which is in South Africa, international readers].
The billboard features an image of a man holding his hands against the temples of his face. The following quote “An atheist is a man who believes himself to be an accident – Francis Thompson” appears underneath.
The complaint then:
In essence, the complainant submitted that the billboard offends him as an atheist as he does not consider his existence to be an accident. Secondly, the depiction of a man with an empty head communicates that atheists are stupid.
The following are my preliminary thoughts when reading about this ruling. (Note: the Christian respondent “smartly” – read idiotically – responded with Bible quotes. Nice move, guy. That’s really going to convince an atheist.)
My argument is that we allow religions to have bizarre laws within secular states. If we relegate marriage as a whole to religions, we ought to tolerate whatever views the religious groups have on marriage. With regards to the State, we ought to just have a civil union, which is sex-blind. If religions then want to maintain their opposition to gay marriages, that is their business, not those of us focused on secular policies. It would be disgusting if they did continue to oppose gay marriages, but we tolerate disgusting views – as long as they don’t infringe on the wider laws – anyway.
The main reason to oppose homosexual discrimination usually has to due with inconsistent application of the laws or rules applied. That is, if sexual orientation truly does not effect whether someone is a better citizen, worker, friend, and so on, then he ought not to be discriminated against if he happens to be gay. This would constitute unfair discrimination, by definition, since you would be treating those who happened to be straight without worrying whether their sexual orientation would lead to a worse friendship or poorer work performance (or you take it for granted that straight people perform better or are more trustworthy, etc.) Unfair discrimination or prejudice is what we (ought to) oppose – but not discrimination by definition, since that would actually be absurd. Continue reading
An advert about odours that “could offend” Christians has been pulled because of a single complaint from an angelically-concerned, single (male) individual. I’m offended his offence was taken seriously. Does my offence count?
Recently, it’s been very interesting watching advertising bodies get involved in metaphysical debates about the existence of god. For example, when the wonderful (but British) Ariane Sherine successfully managed to get an atheist message on busses – with powerful support from Richard Dawkins – they were told to change “There is no god” to “There is probably no god”. There were very bad arguments for this, but it’s fairly obvious why – ironically it is to cater to those who do believe, despite it being directed at those who obviously do not. Now, in South Africa, we’ve had something similar. Continue reading
As some may know, I wrote a fairly extensive criticism of Mr Eban Olivier, regarding his reaction to Diane Coetzer. Mr Oliver has sent me an email in reply. It was not calling for my death, but actually attempted what I’d hoped for from Mr Olivier. With his permission, I reprint his email in full [and sic]. Continue reading