February 14, 2007

The slow-motion non-firing continues.

The second Edwards blogger quits. (Via Memeorandum.)
I would like to make very clear that the campaign did not push me out, nor was my resignation the back-end of some arrangement made last week. This was a decision I made, with the campaign's reluctant support, because my remaining the focus of sustained ideological attacks was inevitably making me a liability to the campaign, and making me increasingly uncomfortable with my and my family's level of exposure.

I understand that there will be progressive bloggers who feel I am making the wrong decision, and I offer my sincerest apologies to them. One of the hardest parts of this decision was feeling as though I'm letting down my peers, who have been so supportive.

There will be some who clamor to claim victory for my resignation, but I caution them that in doing so, they are tacitly accepting responsibility for those who have deluged my blog and my inbox with vitriol and veiled threats. It is not right-wing bloggers, nor people like Bill Donohue or Bill O'Reilly, who prompted nor deserve credit for my resignation, no matter how much they want it, but individuals who used public criticisms of me as an excuse to unleash frightening ugliness, the likes of which anyone with a modicum of respect for responsible discourse would denounce without hesitation.
You may be tempted to say that she dished out vitriol and therefore can't complain when it comes back to her, but there's a huge difference between public discourse on a blog -- however nasty -- and sending threatening email. That is never justified. She does say "veiled threats," which suggests it may have only been harshly critical email that made her feel threatened. Still, I can understand how that can freak you out. I should think it would also be intolerable to feel that you're hurting your own candidate. Whether they tell you you have to leave or not, you have to put the facts together and see that you have to leave. You can call that your personal decision if you want, but how can you make any other decision -- whatever was in that email?

128 comments:

hdhouse said...

very well said.

Meade said...

What would Nixon have done if Checkers had run away after the speech? "We're keeping him but he doesn't want us."

Now we'll see if Edwards has even a modicum of spine.

Jeff said...

Yes, she's a martyr to free speech, just like Ayaan Hirsi Ali!!!

yetanotherjohn said...

Marcotte was a bigot. Her bigotry was of the sort supported by the left does not make it less than bigotry.

Mcewan was more circumspect in her language, but also exhibited bigotry.

Imagine if instead of writing about Christians, she had shown bigotry against Blacks, women, the disabled or whatever. They have an absolute free speech right to spew their bigotry on their blogs. But the rest of the country has an absolute free speech right to point out their bigotry.

The problem for the Edwards campaign was they were either incompetent in screening that missed the bigotry or blind to the bigotry when they screened. In either case, not the sort of thing to inspire voters about Edwards' ability to be president.

All of that said, I agree that threats should also be condemned. I doubt that 'veiled threats' lie in the realm of actionable criminal conduct, but we can all use our

Ann Althouse said...

You know, I don't really think it's right to call someone a "bigot" for ridiculing religion. Religion is a set of ideas, and you can make fun of it and harshly criticize it without deserving to be lumped together with the sort of people who have an irrational hatred of a category of human beings.

Mike said...

I think the problem for the Edwards campaign is that they resigned (at least that's the public face) rather than Edwards firing them. That pacifies the netroots crowd now, but it's going to make it less than credible when his opponent(s) point to the writings of these two later and he says, as he inevitably must, that he does not support their hatred. I assume he really doesn't support their hatred, but he chose to ignore it to get in good with the netroots and that was a big mistake. His first mistake was hiring them in the first place. He had a second chance to fix the mistake when this blew up by firing them and he didn't take it.

AJD said...

"you can make fun of it and harshly criticize it without deserving to be lumped together with the sort of people who have an irrational hatred of a category of human beings."

Like hatred of a category of people known as Jews? or Catholics?

Since I am not a former student, I can only wonder whether you make such lame arguments in class, or do you just reserve them for the blog?

George said...

She cruelly maligned Christians and then resigned because of the "frightening ugliness" she suddenly discovered existed in national politics?

The rhetoric in US national politics has been vicious and ugly since Washington took office. It didn't start with the Internet.

She dished it out, but she couldn't take it.

What fantasyland was she living in?

TMink said...

Althouse wrote: "there's a huge difference between public discourse on a blog -- however nasty -- and sending threatening email."

Agreed. Being a potty mouthed bigot does not qualify you for termination or threats. But we disagree about her being a bigot. My reading of the posts, those that I could stomach, was that she was attacking me, not my spirituality. I am not Catholic, and my Catholic brothers and sisters seemed to be the main target of her rage, but I felt more than offended.

And I have certainly read attacks on religion and spirituality in general that were not offensive to me as a person. So I think I know the difference, and tolerate criticism of my religion well. But sustained vulgar attacks on me and people like me, well, that is different. It is not criticism, it is bigotry.

Still, that is not justification for threatening her. But if she said those things in person to me, it might justify a punch in the nose!

Trey

miked0268 said...

"Like hatred of a category of people known as Jews? or Catholics?"

Well, yeah. Isn't it clear that hatred for members of a particular religion, while unsavory, isn't really quite the same thing as hatred of a racial or ethnic group? Jews, of course, are kind of a special case; it doesn't seem clear (even to themselves) whether they are a religious, ethnic, or somewhere-in-between group.

No matter how justified the criticisms of these two bloggers, and criticisms of the Edwards campaign for hiring them, no one should remotely condone threatening e-mails. Maybe 99.9% of threatening e-mails are BS but you can't tell which ones they are.

Mike said...

I think you have to look at the character of the criticism, Ann. Sure, religion is a set of ideas and therefore open to criticism, unlike, say, the race of an individual. I think it is justified, in fact imperative, that we criticise our fanatic Islamic enemies, for example. But the method of criticism employed by these two bloggers is beyond the pale and sure smacks of bigotry to me.

Mike said...

George asked: "What fantasyland was she living in?"

I think she was living in the fantasyland of one corner of the blogosphere. As long as she was read only by like minds, and got only backslaps and high-fives, she thought it was just fine doing what she was doing. I suspect that emboldened her to become more and more outrageous. When Edwards hired her she was introduced to the real world.

tcd said...

I think both Edwards bloggers went beyond ridiculing Catholics; they crossed into hate territory.

And who's condoning hatemail? I think McEwan is casting aspersions with "I caution them that in doing so, they are tacitly accepting responsibility for those who have deluged my blog and my inbox with vitriol and veiled threats". Yeah, she's playing the martyr, an oft used pose for leftists.

Joe Baby said...

It's possible to disagree w/o being disagreeable.

These two didn't disagree with religious tenets. They were repeatedly and willfully profane.

Then to complain about nasty discourse -- well, it's an empty concern at that point.

Henry said...

I think there's a broken feedback mechanism at work. Hopefully a blogger or activist could feel chagrin or remorse for over-the-top statements. But when such a foolish person gets deluged with hate emails they will react defensively. The punishment is so far out of proportion to the crime as to make reflective self-examination extremely unlikely.

Turn the situation around. Say you're outraged by one of Mcewan's blog posts. So you flame her with an email. She's offensive, you flame her, seems fair. But meanwhile another 1,000 people have the same great idea. Some of them thing it's such a great idea they flame her 10 times. Some of them find out where she works and flame her boss.

If it happened to me, I know I'd have a hard time staying objective (let alone reflective).

B said...

Ann,
You said:
I don't really think it's right to call someone a "bigot" for ridiculing religion. Religion is a set of ideas, and you can make fun of it and harshly criticize it without deserving to be lumped together with the sort of people who have an irrational hatred of a category of human beings.

You have never been more wrong about anything you have written..

If I have to explain it to you, then I have never more seriously misjudged the intelligence and intellectual honesty of another human being. And if that's true, I truly am sad for you and deeply disappointed for your readers and students. Sorry - some things are beyond defensible.

DBrooks said...

bigot--1. a person who is utterly intolerant of any differing creed, belief, or opinion.
2. One who is strongly partial to one's own group, religion, race, or politics and is intolerant of those who differ.

To me, these definitions seem to apply in this case.

SteveR said...

Yes Ann, I think you are wrong. They are bigots.

Ann Althouse said...

I've been in some really nasty blog fights with these lefty bloggers, but it has never resulted in any significant email. The nastiness was on the surface, on line, where of course it ended up hurting the bloggers, who are engaging in a type of political rhetoric you're perfectly free to despise.

I stand by my point about mocking and criticizing religion. I agree that there is a such thing as bigotry against the people who believe the religion, and one thing can blend over into the other, and that there is so much evil to be avoided that it may be better not to mock and criticize the ideas of religion. But that doesn't change my point, that there is a such thing as mocking and criticizing religion that does not deserve the label bigotry.

Nathan said...

Marcotte's use of over-the-top vulgarity was meant not only to "mock" or "criticize" religious ideas, but also to marginalize and deeply offend those who believe those ideas. For her to insist that she is "sorry if anyone was offended" is complete and utter BS, and she knows it.

Robert said...

there is a such thing as mocking and criticizing religion that does not deserve the label bigotry.

Criticizing I'll grant you. No person, group, or set or ideas is above criticism.

Is there such a thing as mocking that does not deserve the label bigotry? What if it was about race rather than faith? If I like to make fun of blacks - they're so lazy! they steal! - it isn't bigotry? It's just me "mocking" them. Right?

I think that's where you fall down. I think mocking someone on the basis of a group identity is pretty much always and everywhere a sign of bigotry. There could be exceptions, I guess, but I can't think of what they would be.

B said...

This is not a trick question - it's a sincere desire to find where the lines are being drawn.

Does the statement (not a quote)below represent a bigot's thinking, or not?

You know, I'm not sayin' all blacks are this way, but it just seems that there is a cultural attitude in the black "community" that despises getting an education. It's like they're all afraid of becoming white or something. Why can't they just fit in to America?

Cultural commentary or the words of a bigot?

Mike said...

Nathan said: "For her to insist that she is "sorry if anyone was offended" is complete and utter BS, and she knows it."

Did she actually say that? She must think we're idiots.

Ann said: "But that doesn't change my point, that there is a such thing as mocking and criticizing religion that does not deserve the label bigotry."

Ann, I have no problem criticizing religion, and agree with your statement, but I think you should find a better example to illustrate it.

Nathan said...

Mike, that was the tone of her "apology" from last week.

Meade said...

"...such thing as mocking and criticizing religion that does not deserve the label bigotry."

Naked Lunch said...

As far as I know, absolutely nobody was complaining about her blog before Edwards hired her. I believe she is an atheist, so in essence she ridiculed something she doesn't think exists, and therefore why should church doctrine be applied to her. This is hardly new. If you can equate poking fun at an imaginary friend, to insulting entire groups of people like the lunatic Donohue, I'd be curious how. The guy is obsessed with bizarre sexual imagery to convey his points, and inevitably ends up accusing a group of people of engaging in anal sex.

Edwards was stupid for not checking what they've been writing about, but really, our founders talked openly and passionately about religion and government, and I know there are many things they wrote that would offend many people today. It's sad to see how far we've regressed. If Donohue would open his bible he would find sins against profiting from righteousness, and I think it's the Book of Luke he will find the Parable of the Lost Sheep. But he doesn't want to save anyone, just destroy them.

Nathan said...

I know people who don't think homosexuality, as an innate orientation, exists. Are they poking fun at an imaginary friend, or insulting entire groups of people?

Alan said...

"She cruelly maligned Christians and then resigned because of the "frightening ugliness" she suddenly discovered existed in national politics?

Aren't those supposed Christians special? I hear "frightening ugliness" is exactly what attracted them to following Jesus.

Henry said...

How about we postulate that all this mocking of religion is bigotry.

It's a big world of bigots, then. You can start with most every comic out there to start with, then reach back to Martin Luther (a master of the scatalogical).

So what's the issue? What I read in many of the posts above is an attempt to trump the discussion. Cry bigot and let slip the dogs of self-righteousnous.

Mike said...

NL said: : "As far as I know, absolutely nobody was complaining about her blog before Edwards hired her.:

See my 9:04am post.

NL said: "I believe she is an atheist, so in essence she ridiculed something she doesn't think exists"

So am I. So what? That doesn't give me free license to spew hatred.

Nathan said...

I don't think anyone here is suggesting that all mocking of religion equals bigotry.

Surely there is a line, though, between mocking or criticizing a set of ideas, and intentionally setting out to marginalize and offend those who espouse those beliefs. The latter, it seems to me, crosses over into bigotry.

Mike said...

Henry said: "How about we postulate that all this mocking of religion is bigotry."

But it's not.

SteveR said...

Henry: I would not say that all mocking of religion is bigotry. I'm entitled to my own opinion and in this case I say yes. I don't really care that they (or Edwards) apologize for offending me, or apologize that I felt offended.

Mocking religion, exposed in the big arena, does not make me feel sorry for the wrath it brings on. Doesn't make it justified but if all you can do is throw out some smart ass commentary without handling the consequences, better to keep your mouth shut.

Dewave said...

but individuals who used public criticisms of me as an excuse to unleash frightening ugliness, the likes of which anyone with a modicum of respect for responsible discourse would denounce without hesitation.


And look, she just perfectly described the vast majority of Marcotte's postings!

Hateful bigots who spend their time spewing violently anti-religious screeds should not in fact, be surprised when they receive criticism in return.

And spare me the lamentation about receiving 'ugly, threatening' emails. Every prominent blogger out there gets these (at least, any blogger that offends the fever swamp extreme left). It comes with the territory. The people sending such emails are in the wrong, but the fact that the Edwards bloggers, like every conservative blogger in existence, has received 'threatening emails' does not suddenly validate those bloggers points of view or mean that they were in the right.

You know, I don't really think it's right to call someone a "bigot" for ridiculing religion.

You don't think it's possible to be bigoted against a religion? That's one of the few foolish things I've ever seen you say. It's clearly possible to criticize aspects of a religion without being a bigot, but it's also clearly equally possible to be violently bigoted against religion in general, or a specific religion.

Marcotte's posts were so vile they could have been used as textbook examples of the latter. She wasn't taking issue with a religions theology, she was mocking and reviling and deliberately trying to offend religious people

Bottom line is: a campaign cannot afford to hire bloggers who have extensively engaged in hate speech against a voting bloc they feel they need to win.

Dewave said...

I should also point out, that Marcotte is quite free to pursue her anti-catholic agenda on her own time and blog. People may criticize what she says, but obviously it would be wrong to try to get her blog shut down or something.

Nor am I saying there should be a law that campaigns cannot hire people who criticize religion.

The Edwards campaign had to get rid of these bloggers, not because they are not allowed to keep them, but that they wouldn't survive the PR disaster from keeping them, as these bloggers made many truly indefensible comments aimed at offending a large portion of the voting populace.

Joe said...

Dewave,

I believe Ann's point was that just because someone criticizes a religion, doesn't make them a bigot. Even if that criticism is extreme or "vile", it still doesn't make the person a bigot or the comments bigoted.

This is the same politically correct canard blacks and gays have been using for years. Muslims have also jumped on the band wagon and now Christians as well. In the end, it appears that if you disagree with someone's opinion, just call them a bigot of a whatever-phobe and then sit back in smug self-righteousness confident you have won the argument.

Henry said...

Mike said - Henry said: "How about we postulate that all this mocking of religion is bigotry."

But it's not.


So much for my thought experiment. I don't disagree, but where's the bright line? Maybe my problem is that I can't get very offended with Marcotte and Mcewan's worst posts because they are so utterly sophomoric.

So let me put this another way -- assuming that Marcotte and Mcewan are bigots, what is the appropriate level of response?

Nathan said, - if all you can do is throw out some smart ass commentary without handling the consequences, better to keep your mouth shut.

"handling" is an odd word. Marcotte and Mcewan are handling the consquences. They are handling them by getting angry. Would you expect that someone who receives a barrage of hateful email would suddenly be reflective and concilitary? Why?

Joe said...

Henry, you are being silly. Surely, the expectation is that Marcotte and Mcewan will suddenly concede to the arguments of their opponents and admit they have been wrong this entire time.

Then we'll all dance around the campfire singing Kumbaya.

HaloJonesFan said...

Nathan:
"I don't think anyone here is suggesting that all mocking of religion equals bigotry."

Actually, most of the people here are suggesting that!

And I agree with Ann. These people are wrong. Bigotry is "I won't assist or hire someone who is religious, and I won't take their ideas seriously because they're religious." It isn't "I think that religion is stupid". Bigotry is an ad hominem argument, and that's different from ridicule.

People are frantically trying to frame Marcotte as a bigot, so that the debate about her is over before it even starts. Because, after all, if her statements are bigoted, then who can possibly defend them? And so there's no need to argue--you've already won! It's a shameful, cowardly tactic--doesn't anyone know how to argue a position on its own merits anymore? It isn't as though Marcotte is above all criticism!

Indeed: She's leaving us with a classic non-apology. "I'm leaving because horrible people will twist my statements and use them to smear my boss". See, it isn't her fault--it's that awful Bill O'Reilly fellow. Oh, and her family is being exposed--don't you just feel terribly guilty for what you've done? Now don't you see how your dreadful attitudes hurt real people? Guilt guilt GUILT!

Mike said...

Henry, who says there's a bright line? If there were bright lines everywhere, Ann would have to find a new profession.

"So let me put this another way -- assuming that Marcotte and Mcewan are bigots, what is the appropriate level of response?"

I see no need for a "response" to Marcotte and McKwen. They are free to be bigots. And Edwards is free to hire them. But the issue is what does this say about Edwards, a man who seeks to be President. And that's a fair question.

AllenS said...

This is the beginning of the Edwards campaign, turning into a circular firing squad.

SteveR said...

Henry: I think you cited Nathan when it was my comment. By "handling it", I meant handling it well.

chuckR said...

Leaving aside the debate between vile commentary and bigotry, do you suppose we'll see the threatening e-mails? There are people for whom being outraged and feeling threatened is an avocation at least. Do the threatening e-mails rise to the Jeff Goldstein standard or not?

Fen said...

I don't really think it's right to call someone a "bigot" for ridiculing religion.

Marcotte's contempt of men, southerners, and christians is based on ignorant stereotypes. Thats what makes her a bigot.

Religion is a set of ideas, and you can make fun of it and harshly criticize it without deserving to be lumped together with the sort of people who have an irrational hatred of a category of human beings.

Agreed. But while you and I would mock Islam, Marcotte would stereotype all muslims as "child-molesting ragheads". Thats the difference.

She does say "veiled threats," which suggests it may have only been harshly critical email that made her feel threatened.

I'm skeptical. Its typical for loudmouths to claim such victimization once confronted. Almost as predictable as Gibson et al using the rehab apology. That Marcotte qualifies those "threats" as "veiled" tells me she is exagerrating [ie. "veiled" because she knows her claim wouldn't withstand public scrutiny]. Otherwise, post the "threats" along with valid addys - and have her ISP confirm, b/c her word alone is not credible.

Just look at all the other weasly comments in her announcement: shifting blame, playing the victim, blaming a vast right-wing consipiracy. Ex:

There will be some who clamor to claim victory for my resignation, but I caution them that in doing so, they are tacitly accepting responsibility for those who have deluged my blog and my inbox with vitriol and veiled threats

Haven't seen any right-wingers gloating over this, but its quite a stretch to link them with those "veiled [and manufactured?] threats". Its a dishonest attempt to marginalize her critics. The rest of her piece is similar cya fabrications.

Daryl Herbert said...

Edwards kept them both after they both said they didn't really intend to offend religious people.

When Marcotte quit, she promised to go nuclear.

If Marcotte was lying about not wanting to insult religion, why should anyone believe that her close ideological friend was telling the truth?

Henry said...

SteveRHenry: I think you cited Nathan when it was my comment. By "handling it", I meant handling it

Whoops. Thanks for the clarification.

Yeah, I don't suppose they're handling it all that well; but I don't know which of us would. It's pretty easy to spout off and pretty hard to step back and respect valid criticism (or even notice it) when it's mixed into a ton of bile.

B said...

It appears that most of us here are in agreement with the theory that says it is possible to criticize religion and religious views, even mock them, and still not hate those holding such views.

I agree. It IS possible - but most people would also agree that not ALL mocking is bigotry-free.

Defending someone's right to free speech does not entitle them to a criticism-free zone. Why is that liberals seem to always think that negative criticism of their "speech" equals some form of censorship?

Marcotte's widely quoted statements about the Virgin birth were meant to offend - and they deeply hit their mark with me. I do not wish her physical harm or loss of her rights to continue speaking her immature, poorly thought out writing. In fact, I am always in favor of MORE speech - let as many view her blogs as possible. Let everyone read her and make up their own minds - and MOST will be offended or turned off.

But - there is nothing - NOTHING - more hypocritical in the public debate than the person who wants the freedom to mock and criticize others and then cries "McCarthyism" at someone else's right to exercise their freedom in criticizing and mocking back.

Mike said...

B, very well said (if I may quote hdhouse).

Daryl Herbert said...

You know, I don't really think it's right to call someone a "bigot" for ridiculing religion. Religion is a set of ideas, and you can make fun of it and harshly criticize it without deserving to be lumped together with the sort of people who have an irrational hatred of a category of human beings.

And what happens when you insult the category of human beings who have those religious beliefs?

Such as referring to all right-wing Christians as "Christofascists"? Or suggesting that all pro-life Christians are misogynists?

The idea that religious people are dumber or wronger than non-religious people, or any less logical, is unfair and thus bigotry. And I say this as a proud religion-bashing atheist.

PatCA said...

It's a good lesson for bloggers, beginners or pros. There's an anonymous audience out there, and you don't control it. So if you're going to spew venom, then add to your visibility by taking a job with a presidential candidate, you can expect trouble.

I don't believe anyone "used public criticisms of me as an excuse to unleash frightening ugliness," but did it to attack Edwards politically. Maybe I'm wrong, maybe there is a conspiracy against her personally, but I don't think so. I agree with Kirsten Powers, who said this shows shockingly that no one vetted them or they did and they liked what they read! You want this guy as president?

Fen said...

That Marcotte qualifies those "threats" as "veiled" tells me she is exagerrating

Edit: Not Marcotte, its the other bigot. Check out her comments section - the spin is that she was forced to resign b/c of threats to her & her family...terrorized into quiting her job.

I call bullshit.

Robert said...

What B said.

Hey said...

Paedophile jokes about Catholic priests - mean but far too much basis in reality.

Mocking the priests wearing dresses - mean but whatever (unless you're Andrew Sullivan)

Marcotte's hot, white, sticky Plan B thing - vile and inappropriate, but not bigoted. She's got a policy point and makes it, though in one of the most offensive and least convincing ways possible.

"Godbags" - B-I-G-O-T

"Christofascist" - B-I-G-O-T

"It's a vagina, not a clown car" - B-I-G-O-T

You can be viciously mean towards religion and the religious if you are on point. Keeping it on a policy or theological level, even to say that religion is a stupid thing that weak minded people need for comfort, is discussion and not hatred.

Coming up with new slurs to refer to anyone who is religious is pure bigotry.

These two needed to go for 2 reasons - they were bigoted against a vast majority of the population and they used the most vile and offensive imagery to convey their policy points. Either reason is enough to can them, but for the Edwards campaign the 2nd one should have been the most important.

You don't hire Ann Coulter as your media consultant, since she is all about burning bridges and dancing on the embers. She's expressly not adept at reaching out to people, but rather at polarising them. There is some role for polarizing experts in campaigns, but they need to have no reputation, need to be at arm's length from the campaign, etc. You don't have your dirty tricks specialist front and centre, nor issue a news release about their hiring. Heck, you usually endeavour to make sure that they can't be traced back to your campaign.

These two got what they deserved, as did Edwards. The problem for his campaign is that he can't get rid of the person that caused this damage: Elizabeth Edwards. You can't dump your wife during a political campaign, and so he will continue to be beset by these problems since she will be an ongoing malevolent presence and influence on his staff.

Hillary! has this problem as well. She was this problem for Bill, for many of the same reasons that Elizabeth is for John. The downside of having a wife who is engaged and seen to be engaged in the process is that you know have 2 uncontrollable people in the campaign, and the efforts necessary to succeed in the campaign can very easily damage the personal relationship. It also dramatically increases the costs of running, since you need a substantial, loyal, full time staff to manage the candidate's spouse, on top of whatever staff they may already have from their outside interests.

Dewave said...

People are frantically trying to frame Marcotte as a bigot, so that the debate about her is over before it even starts. Because, after all, if her statements are bigoted, then who can possibly defend them? And so there's no need to argue--you've already won! It's a shameful, cowardly tactic--doesn't anyone know how to argue a position on its own merits anymore?

Really? You think her statements were not in fact, driven by anti-catholic bigotry? Her blanket accusations that Christians were fascists and misogynists were actually insightful comments aimed to spark discussion and greater understanding? That her foul words deliberately calculated to offend were actually offered in a spirit of conciliation and mutual respect?

Please.

Macotte is a bigot, one who is strongly partial to one's own group, religion, race, or politics and is intolerant of those who differ. Period. It is not because she criticized catholicism, for it is easy to criticize catholicism without being a bigot. It is the way she criticized catholics and villified them personally.

And what debate or position do you think is being obscured by the charges of bigotry? The debate is that what Marcotte said was inappropriate, precisely *because* it was presented in a hateful and bigoted way.

Obviously it would be foolish to say all criticism of a religion was inappropriate.

And by inappropriate, we don't mean illegal. It may be wrong and boorish, but it's still protected speech. Of course, if a campaign associates with such an intolerant hothead, people are going to make connections and you'll lose votes.

Hence the firings.

dick said...

I really don't understand how anyone can support these women. In Marcotte's blog just yesterday she posted the name and mailing address of Donohue, the Catholic and then pointedly said here is his address but I don't think you should send mailings to him there. Are you supporting what she did then? Is that the kind of blogger and the kind of response you support really???

Daryl Herbert said...

You may be tempted to say that she dished out vitriol and therefore can't complain when it comes back to her

Threatening death, rape, or any other sort of physical violence for political reasons is terrorism.

Anyone who attempts to defend or justify terrorism is an enemy of freedom.

The death and rape threats that have been leveled against Marcotte, McEwan and Donohue cannot be justified by any volume of 1st Amendment-protected speech such as Marcotte's attacks on Christianity or Donohue's attempts to get Marcotte fired.

If you know someone who has made such a threat, turn them in to law enforcement.

That having been said, I haven't seen anyone giving in to the temptation as you describe it. It seems more like Marcotte is trying to conflate legitimate criticism of her publicly-taken positions with death threats, in order to make herself out as a perfect victim and delegitimize fair criticism. It's a classic lefty appeal to victimhood and furthers her position of refusing to defend her beliefs.

Naked Lunch said...

The idea that religious people are dumber or wronger than non-religious people, or any less logical, is unfair and thus bigotry. And I say this as a proud religion-bashing atheist.

So then as an atheist you're only offended by anti-religious rhetoric, but not offended when the same people blame you for everything from Katrina, to 9/11? Only Donohue can mock, and not you? Edwards showed a glaring weakness which rightfully should hurt him. But can't the Right send out someone who doesn't have as much, or more obvious hatred for people making their case? Donohue believes it's white peoples fault for not halting the "spread" of homosexuality -- and that it isn't "flourishing" in places like the Middle East, Latin America or Africa. He seems to think it's like a disease [that can be stopped] and it can caught on a flight by accidentally picking up a Mens Journal or something. I can't mock that?

Nathan said...

Who is this "Right" you speak of, and how does it decide who to "send out" on its behalf?

Mike said...

NL said: "blah, blah, blah, ... I can't mock that?"

Straw man, Lunch, straw man. Mock away.

Molon_Labe_Lamp said...

NL: I can't mock that?

Sure you can and I don't think anybody here is saying you can't. But look how the message is delivered. Marcotte uses sneering unabashedly hostile language. Donohue likely said the things you stated and should be challenged but I doubt he delivered it with nearly the same venom.

Fen said...

But can't the Right send out someone who doesn't have as much, or more obvious hatred for people making their case?

Huh? I think Edwards was more concerned with criticism from Catholic Democrats.

Daryl Herbert said...

I haven't seen this addressed squarely anywhere: insulting religion was a deliberate, conscious choice by Marcotte. It wasn't an accident or the result of bad manners. Being offensive was part of her strategy.

Radical feminists see a lot of conservative elements in our society as holding women down. One of these is religion. Another is the respect for religion and civility in general. Feminists (like every other politically active group in the country, but perhaps much more so) are often stifled with an appeal to politeness. Don't speak up on feminist issues, because that's "rude."

Surely some women are cowed by this and choose not to speak up. Others have decided to wage a war on politeness. Hence all of the profanity at Pandagon. Nothing could please them more than to be called a "bitch"; anything less means they aren't pushing as hard as they could be.

Another facet of this is the desire to undermine religion. This can be by attacking the basic truth of it or less directly, by attacking respect for religion. Make fun of religious people and religious leaders especially. Make fun of their political beliefs and the religious beliefs behind those. Make fun of completely unrelated religious beliefs. If people lose respect for religion, it will have less (anti-woman) impact in our society.

I think the idea that people in general might stop respecting religion sounds pretty crazy to most Americans. But it's the norm in many European countries, where rates of belief are much lower. And it's exactly what many radical leftists want for America.

Should we accept anti-clericalism as a normal, mainstream thing in American politics?

Maybe you'd like to address this as a separate thread, Ann, because I'm sure you've got an interesting perspective on it as an academic and a feminist yourself, and someone who has previously stated the importance of respecting religion. You also probably have lots of academic leftist friends on both sides of this issue.

Daryl Herbert said...

So then as an atheist you're only offended by anti-religious rhetoric, but not offended when the same people blame you for everything from Katrina, to 9/11?

First, I'm not offended by "anti-religious rhetoric." I'm offended by anti-religious people rhetoric. Hate the sin and love the sinner, right? I know too many perfectly reasonable Christians to think that being illogical with respect to your own religion makes you illogical or indecent anywhere else.

Where did I ever say I wasn't offended by idiotic claims that atheists/gays/etc. are responsible for 9/11? Most religious people are offended by that garbage.

Only Donohue can mock, and not you?

Naked Lunch, I have never been accused of not mocking people often enough.

Anyway, Donohue didn't mock anything. He came out with a straightforward attack.

It's fair to mock religion. It's fair to mock dumb religious people. It's not fair to mock all religious people as if they were all dumb. And of course, everyone has the right to be dumb or unfair.

Edwards showed a glaring weakness which rightfully should hurt him.

I think Edwards showed more incompetence than "weakness."

But can't the Right send out someone who doesn't have as much, or more obvious hatred for people making their case?

Whom did "the Right sound out"? We don't get to vote on these things. Nobody elected Donohue Chief Talk Show Blowhard.

Donohue believes it's white peoples fault for not halting the "spread" of homosexuality -- and that it isn't "flourishing" in places like the Middle East, Latin America or Africa. He seems to think it's like a disease [that can be stopped] and it can caught on a flight by accidentally picking up a Mens Journal or something.

Donohue's a stupid jerk. His opinions would be on trial if he was being appointed to some public position on a campaign. Any politician who chose to associate with him would be a stupid jerk.

By publicly attacking Marcotte and McEwan, Donohue has certainly opened himself and his own views up for criticism. None of that criticism is relevant to whether Marcotte/McEwan should have stayed on as Edwards' aides.

I can't mock that?

Go ahead and mock individual religious idiots. Just don't mock people for the sole reason that they're religious. It's your choice--but don't expect respect if you choose badly.

kettle said...

I agree - totally unnecessary use of the word 'vitriol'. (this rash of comments is the result of my being unable to sleep tonight!)

Dewave said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dewave said...

I think the idea that people in general might stop respecting religion sounds pretty crazy to most Americans. But it's the norm in many European countries, where rates of belief are much lower. And it's exactly what many radical leftists want for America.


I'm not so sure we want to look to Europe for a good example of how religious beliefs should play out.

Sounds like Marcotte is attacking the wrong religion.

Mind you, she would be a singularly inept advocate of greater women's rights under Islam, due to her inability to offer criticism without demonising adherents of her target religion.

Naked Lunch said...

Daryl said...
Whom did "the Right sound out"? We don't get to vote on these things. Nobody elected Donohue Chief Talk Show Blowhard.

This is my point in a nutshell. Anyways we agree that mocking people, instead of religion itself is very stupid, and I don't condone it. I don't know if she was or wasn't, as I haven't read all of it.

michael a litscher said...

Personally, as a conservative, I would have preferred these two become the face of the Democratic Party. Hell, I'd have paid good money to see these two on stage at the DNC convention spewing their 3-minute hate routine while dry humping and then burning an effigy of the Pope.

Shame on those who encouraged these two to leave the Edwards campaign.

AJ Lynch said...

This is so f-ing stupid. It's the Dixie Chicks all over again - confusing their right to say absolutely anything and then complaining when others respond negatively.

None of them (Dixie Chicks, Marcotte,etc) never ever say or write anything clever or new or original or different from what one could hear every night in a bar near a liberal college.

So I say tough shit to all of them. Grow the F up and learn to take your lumps if you want to play in the arena of ideas.

And John Edwards did the typical weasel lawyer thing and had to have it both ways. He would not fire them but probably made it uncomfortable for them to stay.

Revenant said...

Is there such a thing as mocking that does not deserve the label bigotry? What if it was about race rather than faith? If I like to make fun of blacks - they're so lazy! they steal! - it isn't bigotry? It's just me "mocking" them. Right?

Um, how would *criticizing* them for being black be any better? Indeed, most of the examples you give above are in fact ignorant criticism rather than mockery.

It could certainly be argued that mockery of religious beliefs is *insensitive*, since people usually take their religion very seriously. But there's no getting around the fact that many religions believe some extraordinarily silly things . If I said "Martians caused the hurricane that destroyed New Orleans" few would call you a bigot for mocking me. So why call me a bigot for mocking the belief that God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah?

The answer, of course, is that most people believe in God, but not in Martians. To those of us who believe in neither the distinction between the two isn't quite so obvious.

Eli Blake said...

If anyone is wondering what those emails are that she got, Marcotte did a post in which she highlighted some of the worst of them:

http://pandagon.net/2007/02/13/people-who-claim-to-love-jesus-write-me/#more-4727 (complete with names and hometowns of those who identified themselves).

and I'd say she has a point. Whatever she wrote, some of those emails are worse. An example is:

It’s just too bad your mother didn’t abort you. You are nothing more than a filthy mouth slut. I bet a couple of years in Iraq being raped and beaten daily would help you appreciate America a little. Need a plane ticket ?

Yeah, that kind of stuff really casts the right in a good light, doesn't it?

ShadyCharacter said...

Actually, Eli, the advocacy of abortion would seem to put that person squarely in the left, wouldn't it?

Eli Blake said...

Then again, our whole system is screwed up. Those of us who have spent much time around a computer know what a 'mousetrap' is. It is a program, generally accessed from a link in a site that has been hacked into, that will hijack a person's computer and start opening multiple windows. Often porn sites use a mousetrap program.

But take a largely computer-ignorant substitute teacher, a seventh grade class, an unpaid anti-virus vendor, the current hysteria about internet porn, and a bunch of stodgy middle aged people in court who don't know enough about computers to believe that a mousetrap is possible, and you get the recipe for someone to go to prison for forty years for a sex crime that they didn't even commit:

Forty years in prison is a lot to pay for not knowing much about computers.

Eli Blake said...

shadycharacter:

I've been told the same thing (to my face) by a seriously dysfunctional right winger. I guess they believe that abortion is OK if it is retroactively applied to liberals.

Daryl Herbert said...

This is my point in a nutshell. Anyways we agree that mocking people, instead of religion itself is very stupid, and I don't condone it. I don't know if she was or wasn't, as I haven't read all of it.

I'm not so sure we agree. I am very much in favor of mocking people for the right reasons. Mocking people because of their religion is not one of those reasons.

I think it was perfectly acceptable to mock Marcotte, McEwan, Donohue, Edwards, Bowers, Kos, and everyone else who got involved in this. If you'll sign on to that, then I'll be more inclined to think you were right (that we agree).

Simon said...

ShadyCharacter said...
"Actually, Eli, the advocacy of abortion would seem to put that person squarely in the left, wouldn't it?"

Not necessarily. I've suggested in the past that I don't agree that being pro-life is dispositive of where someone sits on the left-right scale. While I acknowledge that the principal isn't perfectly symmetrical (I honestly couldn't say, though, whether a person who is pro-life is more likely to be right of center than a person who is pro-choice is to be on the left; high profile examples of both abound), I continue to believe that "one's view on abortion has far more to do with whether one considers an unborn child to be a human life of some value or not" than it does with one's other philosophical and political views. Those views do not answer the key question about when life begins: "[t]here's nothing in my political philosophy that answers that question, and there's nothing in the liberal political philosophy that answers it. Now, my political philosophy gives me some clear answers about what to do with that belief once it's there, but it doesn't establish the underlying and animating belief. Life is non-partisan."

Simon said...

Eli - the sad part is that the chump who wrote that email ("It’s just too bad your mother didn’t abort you") probably considers themselves to be pro-life.

Peter Palladas said...

Bigotry is radical intolerance of views other than your own.

Is Marcotte - speaking as an atheist - tolerant of religion as a thing in itself?

Or is her level of sustained and stupid invective evidence of toleration of Catholic doctrine or practice, even though she - as she is free to do - is dismissive of the theology?

On the contrary.

She is beyond dumbass ignorance (the Immaculate Conception is not the Virgin Conception stupid woman) and unpleasantness, she is well into the land of bigotry.

somefeller said...

dick said... "I really don't understand how anyone can support these women. In Marcotte's blog just yesterday she posted the name and mailing address of Donohue, the Catholic and then pointedly said here is his address but I don't think you should send mailings to him there. Are you supporting what she did then? Is that the kind of blogger and the kind of response you support really???"

Where is Donohue's address on her website? The only address I see on it is the business address of the Catholic League, not Donahue's personal address (which is what you seem to be implying), and the address is posted per a suggestion that people should contact the IRS to see if the Catholic League is violating the rules under which it has its 501c3 status, and (I suppose) that people should contact the Catholic League to tell them what they think of the League. There's nothing wrong with either action. People organize letter-writing or other campaigns directed to the public contact information of businesses and organizations all the time. Unless Marcotte posted Donahue's home address and phone number somewhere on her site, I'm not seeing anything worthy of the pearl clutch here.

Downtown said...

I have zero problem mocking religious people. Their reviews are so shallow and so simplistic, that they can't even possibly listen to criticism of their beliefs.

Religion is a giant house of cards, that can topple with just the faintest blow. That's why religious people try so hard to to squelch anyone who dares oppose their beliefs.

Let's look it.

Christians believe that the Earth is 6000 years old. Against all scientific evidence.

Christians believe that Moses parted the Red Sea. Under what possible scenario could that have actually happened?

Christians believe that all animals were on Noah's Ark. Hmm. Did that include dinosaurs?

Christians believe that Jesus Christ rose from the dead. That he then ascended into heaven. If anyone made that claim today, we'd put them in a mental asylum.

What a dumb religion. And those who use this as a basis for running their lives. Even dumber.

Except one thing. I really couldn't care if people have these beliefs. They are free to believe whatever they want. Some people believe in astrology and I think they're pretty stupid too. But please don't use your stupidity as a basis for micro-managing my private affairs.

Downtown said...

And when was the last time all these Christians showed respect for other religions? Do they respect Scientology? Does making fun of scientology or Tom Cruise's beliefs make one a bigot?

I make fun of scientology all the time. But I see zero difference between Scientology and Christianity, except that Christianity is more established. They are both cults.

Beth said...

"She is beyond dumbass ignorance (the Immaculate Conception is not the Virgin Conception stupid woman)"

Maybe it's just me, but that sounds so much like a 15-year-old boy explaining a finer point of play in Magic: The Gathering.

Downtown said...

Good point Beth. And he's too stupid to know that it's actually called the "Virgin Birth" not the "Virgin Conception".

Beth said...

"Go ahead and mock individual religious idiots. Just don't mock people for the sole reason that they're religious."

That's entirely reasonable, daryl. Well said.

Beth said...

Oh, yeah. I missed that, dtlad. Heh heh.

Downtown said...

"Go ahead and mock individual religious idiots. Just don't mock people for the sole reason that they're religious."

Why not? REligious people mock atheists all the time, simply because they're NOT religious.

Why is one ok but not the other?

Beth said...

dtlad, perfect example of daryl's point. Some religious people mock atheists. But most don't.

Daryl Herbert said...

Peter Palladas: Bigotry is radical intolerance of views other than your own.

Funny, because radicals say bigotry is conservative intolerance, but radical forms of intolerance are exempt (we can't tolerate intolerance, don'tchaknow)

Daryl Herbert said...

Downtown: Why not? REligious people mock atheists all the time, simply because they're NOT religious.

That's bigotry just the same.

It's not always wrong; throwing it back in a bigot's face is acceptable. If you're in an argument. Like punching someone is generally fine if they punch first.

If you want to roll around in the mud with a pig, trading bigoted insults, go right ahead. I guess.

Revenant said...

Bigotry is radical intolerance of views other than your own.

I would observe, in response, that most religious people are radically intolerant of the one and only belief of atheism: that gods don't exist.

Bigotry does technically have the meaning you ascribe to it, but it is really only used to refer to socially unacceptable radical intolerance. That's why you don't see the vast majority of people who are utterly intolerant of pedophilia referred to as "bigots". That's why atheists who sneer at the idea that God might exist are called "bigots" and religious people who sneer at the idea that he doesn't exist generally aren't -- virtually everybody thinks atheists are wrong.

Nathan said...

Surely we aren't so dense as to not perceive a difference between "sneering" at belief in God, and using the kind of vulgar and obscene imagery Marcotte used to offend, deeply and intentionally, Christians?

downtownlad said...

Who was she offending Nathan? Her blog is geared towards those who agree with her. If you don't like it - don't read it.

Surely your attempt to silence her is more offensive than any valid description she gave of Christianity.

Seven Machos said...

How did Nathan attempt to silence anyone? And if he did, what's the problem with it? It's Nathan's First Amendment right to try to silence people by saying things.

Also, Lad, you obviously don't like most and perhaps all of what you read here. Perhaps you should practice what you preach.

Revenant said...

Surely we aren't so dense as to not perceive a difference between "sneering" at belief in God, and using the kind of vulgar and obscene imagery Marcotte used to offend, deeply and intentionally, Christians?

Obviously there's a difference, but it is a difference between politeness and impoliteness, not a difference between open-mindedness and bigotry. If Marcotte's beliefs wouldn't have been considered bigotry if she'd phrased them politely, considering them bigotry because she doesn't really make much sense. In other words, the fact that she's an annoying bitch doesn't make her a bigot. Of course, she's revealed herself to be a bigot at least one other area (where white men are concerned), so there isn't much reason to give her the benefit of the doubt here.

Meade said...

Downtown 7:14 PM said...
Good point Beth. And he's too stupid to know that it's actually called the "Virgin Birth" not the "Virgin Conception".

Except that the Virgin Conception IS called the "Virgin Conception." The Virgin Birth came later. Both had to do with Mary, mother of Jesus, who, believe it or not, was conceived, born, and lived a life without sin.

Yours is the misconception, typical amongst mocking bigots, of the Immaculate Conception of Jesus.

Seven Machos said...

Meade -- I thought Mary was born under the Immaculate Conception, free from Original Sin. Is her birth also called the Virgin Conception because she was the virgin who gave birth? Or is her birth considered a virgin birth as well?

Totally serious questions here. No agendas.

Meade said...

Good questions, Seven. It appears the not-so-immaculate misconception was mine. If I now have it correct, it goes something like this:

Virgin Birth = Jesus conceived by Mary via the Holy Spirit

Immaculate Conception = Mary untainted by original sin

Virgin Conception = Dolly the sheep

Revenant said...

It's fair to mock religion. It's fair to mock dumb religious people. It's not fair to mock all religious people as if they were all dumb.

Mocking all religious people as stupid is, of course, simply ignorant, as smart people are often religious too (if somewhat less often).

On the other hand, distinguishing between different religious beliefs is, to a nonbeliever, a bit like distinguishing between which exact kind of UFO people believe they've been abducted by. It is hard to see why particular choice might be more or less worthy of mockery than another.

Daryl Herbert said...

On the other hand, distinguishing between different religious beliefs is, to a nonbeliever, a bit like distinguishing between which exact kind of UFO people believe they've been abducted by.

No, not all religious beliefs deviate from observable facts by the same amount. Some are simply totally unverifiable (Jesus rose from the dead) where others are contradicted by mounds of evidence (the Earth is 6,000 years old) while others are on their face ridiculous (Pi equals 3.0)

EnigmatiCore said...

I like what "Hey" said. I am flabbergasted by those who have either tried to defend Marcotte from charges of bigotry or who have been slow to recognize her bigotry.

Would there be such hesitation if she had referred to Muslims as "ragheads?" I would hope not. Yet "Godbag" didn't set off some people's alarms?

People tend to miss or excuse deplorable behavior coming from those who share certain characteristics. For example, atheists and agnostics are slow to see bigotry from other atheists and agnostics. Whites can be slow to see bigotry against blacks, and vice-versa. It happens. We should just be on the lookout for it and be sensitive to our own tendencies.

EnigmatiCore said...

Speaking of bigots, how about former pro athlete Tim Hardaway? Unless he was abused as a child, all I can say is... what a dick!

EnigmatiCore said...

"as smart people are often religious too (if somewhat less often)."

Wow.

Nathan said...

downtownlad,

"valid description she gave of Christianity."

At least we know where you stand.

Simon said...

Meade, why would conceiving a child without having had sex render original sin inapplicable to Mary? I thought the whole point of the doctrine of original sin was that it exists independently of a person's choices, that the fruit is poisoned merely by growing from the tree, hence the need for a distinction between originaland actual sin?

Or is the point that by virtue of her being a vessel for the Messiah, her original sin is vitiated as an act of grace? I could understand that, but the way you're presenting it doesn't seem to make a whole heap of sense to me.

Nathan said...

downtownlad,

So I shouldn't be offended by her comments because they weren't intended for me, as a Christian? Would the same apply to an African-American who is offended by the comments of a white supremacist using racially abusive language on a Neo-Nazi website?

Revenant,

I understand that the water is muddy regarding "politeness" and "bigotry." But I think there is some relationship. If one were to strongly criticize African-American culture with a few racial slurs thrown in for good measure, no one would hesitate to label such comments "bigotry." The commenter might protest that he was only criticizing observable behaviors, and the slurs were thrown in for impoliteness' sake. And we'd laugh at such nonsense.

Finally, I think religious belief is a kind of special case. Unlike race, it is not an immutable characteristic. But unlike other strongly and not-so-strongly held convictions, religious belief is often the result of a very real (at least to the converted) conversion experience that elevates the belief beyond the mere intellectual. To many Christians, their beliefs might as well be an immutable characteristic, like race, as many believe that their conversion experiences were very real events over which they had little or no control. To them, Christianity is not merely the acceptance of a set of ideas, but the result of spiritual intervention.

Nathan said...

Daryl,

I do feel compelled to point out that many, many Christians are not fundamentalists who ascribe to a literal interpretation of the Bible.

Dewave said...

No, not all religious beliefs deviate from observable facts by the same amount. Some are simply totally unverifiable (Jesus rose from the dead) where others are contradicted by mounds of evidence (the Earth is 6,000 years old) while others are on their face ridiculous (Pi equals 3.0)


'Science' cannot either prove or disprove that Jesus rose from the dead, so you are correct there.

I'm not personally aware of any one who believes the Earth is exactly 6,000 years old - this number obtained from adding up the times in the 'begots' section of the Bible. I'm not convinced that's a particularly helpful procedure, as that leads you to interesting conclusions such as that some of Noahs ancestors died in the flood. Most likely it should not be taken super literally.

Moreover, why this fascination for how old the earth is? If it was in fact, created out of nothing by God, don't you think it would *look* like a fully formed mature world, with light from stars millions of light years away hitting it and all that? An all powerful God could have easily created a world that looked millions of years old. You're not going to be able to 'disprove' Christianity by looking at the apparent age of the earth.

I suppose if people could 'prove' the earth happened to be exactly 6,000 or whatever years old then they could 'disprove' evolution, but that's also unlikely.

I'm always surprised by people who complain about the apparent pi=3 comment, as it's such a silly thing to get hung up over. Not only are there many different ways in which to measure the 'width' or 'circumference' of a rimmed container, but is anyone *actually* convinced that this is a completely mathematically accurate definition with no rounding going on?

Someone please tell me what you think the verse *should* look like to accurately capture the glorious nature of pi. And do please explain what exactly a 10th or 100th of a cubit is anyway and how it would be measured.

Dewave said...

Who was she offending Nathan? Her blog is geared towards those who agree with her. If you don't like it - don't read it.


You are missing the point. The offense was caused by the Edwards campaign hiring these bloggers who were quite prolific in their bigoted anti-catholic views.

Was there some mass catholic outcry before the hiring? Nope. Have there been requests to shut down their blogs and prevent them from posting? Nope.

There have been, quite rightly, complaints that if the Edwards campaign does not want to be perceived as anti-catholic, they should refrain from hiring violently anti-catholic folks to run their online PR campaign.

Revenant said...

Some are simply totally unverifiable (Jesus rose from the dead) where others are contradicted by mounds of evidence (the Earth is 6,000 years old)

Um, a crucified human returning to life after three days as a room-temperature corpse sitting in a cave contradicts our knowledge of biology and medicine to pretty much the same extent that young-Earth creationism violates chemistry, geology, and paleontology. The Resurrection is not merely unverified, but ridiculous.

You're right that different religious beliefs differ from observed reality by a greater or lesser amount, but since most religions posit the existence of a God who can change reality to suit his whims that doesn't really help matters any.

Revenant said...

"as smart people are often religious too (if somewhat less often)."

Wow.

Wow what? It's an established fact that religious belief has a mildly negative correlation with intelligence and education. In other words, high-school dropouts are more likely to be religious than geniuses are, although (in America at least) the majority of both groups are in fact religious.

Would there be such hesitation if she had referred to Muslims as "ragheads?"

"Raghead" is a racist term for Arabs. It is not used to refer to Muslims, except inasmuch as Arabs are usually Muslims too.

These repeated attempts to draw parallels between insulting a religion and insulting a race are getting really tiresome. The two aren't equivalent -- membership in a religion (a) is voluntary and (b) says a lot more about your beliefs, morals, and personality than your skin color does.

Revenant said...

Simon,

why would conceiving a child without having had sex render original sin inapplicable to Mary?

It wouldn't. The Catholic Church developed the idea, a few centuries back, that Mary herself had been born without original sin. One of the Popes eventually got around to making it unquestionable Catholic dogma that Mary was free from original sin.

Basically the virgin conception/birth was the *second* unprecedented and miraculous event to happen to Mary, her own birth being the first. :)

Dewave said...

Um, a crucified human returning to life after three days as a room-temperature corpse sitting in a cave contradicts our knowledge of biology and medicine

Yes, that's the definition of a miracle. Something happening that normally could not happen.

Now you could say that you don't 'believe in' an all powerful God that can work miracles, but don't try to pretend you scientifically discovered that he doesn't exist, because science is incapable of answering that question. Any scientist who is not an agnostic has made a religious choice to believe one way or the other.

A lot of critics use circular reasoning: Christianity is false, becomes it assumes Christ rose from the dead, which we know cannot happen, because there are no miracleds, because there is no God, because Christianity is false.

Now sure, neither you nor I have ever *seen* someone be raised from the dead, but then, not a single person in recorded history has seen a magically helpful mutation that transforms one species into another even better species, yet folks don't have problems believing in the foolishness that is evolution as an explanation for the origin of life.

As far as believing in 'pure magic' goes, at least we do have records of people who claimed to have witnessed a resurrection.

Dewave said...

If Marcotte's beliefs wouldn't have been considered bigotry if she'd phrased them politely

Her beliefs, as expressed on her blog, are that anyone who is a Catholic is nothing sort of a misogynist worthy only of scorn and ridicule.

There is no way to phrase that politely. You could do it with less profanity, and probably causing less offence, but it would still be bigoted behavior.

Now, she could easily have hidden her true feelings of Catholicism by limiting herself to polite criticisms of certain aspects of the religion, in which case her stated criticisms would not have constituted bigotry, but then, they wouldn't have matched her real beliefs.

To sum up: the fact that it would be possible for Marcotte to criticize Catholicism in a non-bigoted way does not mean that the way she did choose to criticize Catholics was not bigoted. The actual content of her criticisms would have had to change.

Joe Baby said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joe Baby said...

Marcotte = a wuss.

If she thinks Donohue was outta control she ought to attack Islam and Mohammed with the same level of vitriol.

TMink said...

Dewave wrote: "You are missing the point. The offense was caused by the Edwards campaign hiring these bloggers who were quite prolific in their bigoted anti-catholic views."

Anti-Christian and anti-male would be more accurate.

Trey

TMink said...

Rev wrote: "The Resurrection is not merely unverified, but ridiculous."

Ummm, yes, it is. That is why we call it a miracle. See, we KNOW it goes against physics and biology. That is why it si such a big deal to us.

If Jesus merely reeked after he died, there would be no Christians. It it the miracle, that is the point.

Trey

TMink said...

Rev wrote: "I would observe, in response, that most religious people are radically intolerant of the one and only belief of atheism: that gods don't exist."

Actually, don't most of us just disagree? See, the latest figures show that over 95% of humanity believe in God in some form or other. Rev, you are not getting insulted enough to state that most religious folks are bigots against atheists. We just know that you are wrong.

Now I bet some religious assholes have been totally inappropriate toward you. For that, I appologize. But most of us believers are decent people who would buy you a beer knowing you disagreed with us. Maybe especially if we knew!

Trey

Dewave said...

I would observe, in response, that most religious people are radically intolerant of the one and only belief of atheism: that gods don't exist.

Bear in mind that atheism is often simply another religious conviction, based on belief and faith rather than observable evidence. Some atheists are quite as dogmatic and convinced in the rightness of their opinions as any other religious zealot.

The opposite of a religious person is not an atheist, but an agnostic.

Revenant said...

Yes, that's the definition of a miracle. Something happening that normally could not happen.

And as Hume and others have pointed out, it is always more reasonable to believe that the person who thinks a miracle happened is wrong or crazy (which happens all the time) than it is to believe that the impossible just occurred.

Now you could say that you don't 'believe in' an all powerful God that can work miracles, but don't try to pretend you scientifically discovered that he doesn't exist

It is not scientifically possible to prove that there are no gods that COULD work miracles, true. On the other hand, miracles affect the universe and are therefore detectable, so they aren't entirely outside the bounds of science, unless you posit that gods both perform miracles AND actively work to prevent anyone from detecting them.

In any case, I would say that the proof of the *Christian* god's nonexistence is that the traits ascribed to it are contradictory, and its existence is therefore logically impossible (and yes, I've heard the Christian arguments against this, and no, I'm not impressed). That does not preclude the possibility that a god or gods do exist and Christians are simply wrong about the nature of that god or gods. The Deistic "created the universe and doesn't bother itself with what goes on in it" god, for example, is not self-contradictory and could indeed possibly exist (although there's really no reason to care if it does).

Any scientist who is not an agnostic has made a religious choice to believe one way or the other

Only in the sense that a person who has chosen not to believe that invisible elephants dance the hokey pokey in his living room every day after he leaves for work has made "a religious choice". It would be more accurate to say that it is human nature to assume that things that (a) aren't known to occur and (b) have no known reason to EVER occur are, in fact, not happening, unless evidence to the contrary comes along.

Revenant said...

"If Marcotte's beliefs wouldn't have been considered bigotry if she'd phrased them politely"

Her beliefs, as expressed on her blog, are that anyone who is a Catholic is nothing sort of a misogynist worthy only of scorn and ridicule.

Well, the Church itself is certainly misogynistic, so I can see how a sufficiently angry feminist would decide to tar all its supporters with that particular brush. On the other hand, most "Catholics" ignore a lot of the church's teachings, so blaming them for those teachings isn't necessarily fair.

In any case, I'm not taking a position on whether Marcotte is a bigot with regards to Catholics, since (a) I haven't read her writings on Catholicism and (b) the writings of hers that I *have* read show that's she is unquestionably a bigot when it comes to men, white men in particular. I was just responding to the "she must be a bigot because she's mean and insulting" argument. A polite bigot is still a bigot, and a non-bigot who viciously insults Catholics is still a non-bigot.

Revenant said...

"I would observe, in response, that most religious people are radically intolerant of the one and only belief of atheism: that gods don't exist."

Actually, don't most of us just disagree?

If by "just disagree" you mean "disagree, but are willing to consider the possibility of being wrong about the existence of God", then no. Indeed, as the controversy over the Pledge shows, the overwhelming majority of Christians think the very notion that the government should take no position on the God question is nothing less than a vicious attack on their faith. It isn't like anyone was asking for the words "under no God" to be inserted in its place.

See, the latest figures show that over 95% of humanity believe in God in some form or other. Rev, you are not getting insulted enough to state that most religious folks are bigots against atheists.

First of all, that's 95% of *Americans*, not 95% of humanity. The figures for humanity as a whole are much lower, although theists still constitute a large majority (atheism's common in Asia and much of Europe, which lowers the numbers for the world overall).

Secondly, you just don't notice the insults because you're not an atheist. The previous President Bush, for example, said that atheists couldn't be considered patriots and really shouldn't even be considered Americans. Nobody gave a shit; aside atheists, hardly anyone even took notice. If he'd said that about Christians pundits would STILL be talking about what a viciously bigoted rat bastard he was. Lieberman, Carter, Gore, and Reagan have all made similar remarks during their careers and, again, escaped the "bigot" label. Christians simply don't notice that sort of thing because, truthfully, most of you *agree* that atheists are bad, immoral people.

Finally, research has shown that Americans harbor deep-rooted bigotry towards atheists. Americans are overwhelmingly willing to consider voting for a qualified member of their political party if that person is black, Catholic, Jewish, female, Mormon... hell, 59% are even willing, as of 1999, to consider voting for a homosexual. But a majority of Americans flat-out refuse to even *consider* voting for a qualified atheist candidate, even if they agree with his politics. How is absolutely refusing to accept a person who agrees with you on everything BUT religion anything other than "radical intolerance of religious beliefs"?

[Re: the resurrection]
That is why we call it a miracle. See, we KNOW it goes against physics and biology. That is why it is such a big deal to us.

Most Christians that I know giggle at the Mormon story of the golden plates. All of them giggle at the Scientologist creation story. The thing is, though, that the former of those stories is better-sourced than the Resurrection (we at least know who John Smith was, which is more than can be said for the authors of the Gospels) and the latter is at least hypothetically possible. Food for thought.

It doesn't matter that the Resurrection was "a miracle". The point is, you've chosen to believe that something that you admit is impossible happened... because a handful of apocryphal writers from two thousand years ago said it happened. In what sense is that not a strange thing to do? Ancient writers also said Zeus lived on Mount Olympus and boinked half the women in Greece, but people would certainly look at me funny if I acted like *that* really happened.

Revenant said...

we at least know who John Smith was

... for instance, we know that his name was Joseph, not John. Dumb error on my part.

George said...

The goal of someone running for president is to attract as many voters as possible.

The issue here is Sen. Edwards' judgment.

In order to cement to a small number left-wing primary Democratic primary voters, activists, and fund-raisers, he risked offending much larger numbers of Catholics, other Christians, and people who might be offended by the foul-mouthed cruelties of his bloggers.

Sen. Edwards may have won the short-term battle, but he's going to lose the long-term war.

TMink said...

Hey Rev, I am not persuaded that people regularly hate and discriminate against you because you are an athiest. Honestly, hasn't your rhetoric been the hottest on this thread? Oh, and thanks for the correction about it being 95% of Americans who believe in God. You were right and I was wrong, thanks for the correction.

Now that is OK with me, I support your freedom of (or even from) religion. But I am just not buying it that you are oppressed in a significant manner.

My experience supports my beliefs. So while I will listen politely to your points, they have little place for purchase. My experience tells me that God is alive. So no, I am not really open to changing my mind on this point, but that is different from being a bigot who attacks you. Very different!

But if you are in Nashville, drop me a line. I would love to take you to our best brewpub for an ale and some fun, polite conversation. I promise that I will not bring more than 4 brothers and sisters to pray for and lay hands on you. (Joke alert, but then I bet you knew that.)

Trey

Revenant said...

Hey Rev, I am not persuaded that people regularly hate and discriminate against you because you are an athiest.

To paraphrase Phil Dick, reality doesn't go away just because you don't believe in it. The hard evidence of Christian bigotry is right there in the research I cited, as well in countless other studies. You can believe it or disbelieve it; it exists, regardless.

Honestly, hasn't your rhetoric been the hottest on this thread?

Um, could you quote an example of my "heated rhetoric" in this thread? You might also want to explain how such rhetoric would refute the existence of widespread anti-atheist bigotry.

But I am just not buying it that you are oppressed in a significant manner.

Feel free not to buy it. I'm certainly not going to try reasoning you out of a position you didn't reason yourself into. :)

TMink said...

Rev, I CANNOT give an example of your heated rhetoric because I was attributing someone else's posts to you. My bad, I appologize for this unintentional smear. Thanks for bringing it to my attention. You have conducted yourself in an exemplary manner as far as I am concerned, and I appreciate that.

But the offer of the beer still stands if you are ever in Nashville. No laying on of hands, honest!

Trey

TMink said...

Hey Rev, I read the post on the data about religious prejudice. I have a disagreement with the definition that the studies use for prejudice. They equate stating that another religion, or lack of religion (in your case) is not a positive influence for a person with prejudice. I disagree. Let me explain.

Many Christians believe that only people saved by Jesus will go to heaven. We want people to go to heaven. Anything that gets between them and eternal salvation is therefor not a good thing.

Now, when I think of prejudice, I think of undeserved negative treatment. That is, I think, different from believing that a religion is not a positive force in another person's life. It is a tenet (sp?) of my faith that God's love is universal and that I am called to be a loving person. That is irregardless of another person's faith or lack thereof.

What do you think? I appreciate our conversation.

Trey