Shelfari: Book reviews on your book blog
Fearless Philosophy For Free Minds: If You Can’t Say Anything Nice…

Thursday, May 17, 2007

If You Can’t Say Anything Nice…

I originally had no intention of writing anything about the death of Jerry Falwell because I did not think I would have anything nice to say during this time when his family and friends are grieving (I have since thought of a few nice things which I’ll get to later). So why did I change my mind? I am frankly embarrassed and disturbed with how many atheists, agnostics, and other freethinkers have cheerfully responded to this news. Atheist bloggers as well as more high profile atheists like Christopher Hitchens (who I usually respect) have gone over the deep end with some of their reactions.

I am an atheist and I make no apologies for holding beliefs in opposition to Rev. Falwell but I do not believe it appropriate to dance on his grave (he hasn’t even been buried yet) even though I was clearly in first category of the Falwell axis of evil (atheists, homosexuals, and pornographers). Indeed, Falwell did much damage to this country. He turned the Republican Party away from the Barry Goldwater philosophy of limited government, fiscal responsibility, liberty, and rugged individualism to a party that has more theocratic aims. The Republican Party hardly resembles the movement Goldwater worked so hard to build.

Unlike many of his fellow travelers, however; Falwell walked the walk, talked the talk, and put his money where his mouth is. While many in the Pro-Life movement talked about ending the practice of abortion but seemed to have no concern for young women in desperate situations, Falwell offered room, board, and scholarships to his Christian university to women who decided to keep their babies. Regardless of how one feels about the abortion issue, I can’t help but find this to be an admirable act on the part of Jerry Falwell.

It’s already been over a month since the tragedy at Virginia Tech. In the wake of the tragedy, some Christian bloggers and pundits blamed the “secularization” of our culture and atheism. Others asked “where were the atheists” in the wake of the tragedy. I have seen some of the most disgusting comments by people who call themselves Christians directed at an atheist blogger who is a mother who is dying of cancer. Neal Boortz (who is not an atheist) writes of similar experiences in his radio career about fundamentalist Christians writing the most vicious e-mails because of differences of opinions that many in the Christian Right hold that he does not. Bill O’reilly wrote an entire book about how “secular progressives” have destroyed our culture and in so many words said that atheists are immoral.

I found all these things to be offensive and wrong. A recent poll found that the majority of Americans would vote for a woman, an African American, a Mormon, and even a homosexual for president. The only kind of person most Americans said they would not support was an atheist. Clearly we have a perception problem here. When people who represent a certain point of view behave in such a disgusting way as how some atheists have responded to the death of Jerry Falwell, we play directly into their hands and make their point for them.

We cannot expect these people to be fair and say that these people do not represent all atheists. I fully expect those who already believe atheism to be the source of all of the ills of our culture will amplify those who have said the most outrageous things and downplay those of us who want to be more respectful. We are already such a misunderstood minority as it is; these actions are only going to make us more hated than ever before. If we do not want others to perceive us as callused, immoral, jerks then we shouldn’t act like callused, immoral, jerks. Let’s allow Jerry Falwell’s family and friends some time to grieve in peace. Isn’t that what we would expect from them if one of our icons died?


Blogger Dana said...

Nice entry. Although I probably belong in the "religious right" (or at least those far enough from my beliefs to really understand would place me there), Falwell wasn't my favorite. Part of that is that I always confused him with Phelps, but most of it is for the same reason I have difficulties with most Christian activists. I often sympathize with them on the issues they are addressing, but not in the method.

Anyway, I do think that it is distasteful to rejoice any death (except in that Christian sense that they have gone to be with the Lord, but that is something different entirely.)

I remember when the death of Saddam's brother was reported. I didn't understand it because the news I was watching was in Arabic, but I recognized the pictures. The people I was with leapt to their feet cheering, and shortly thereafter received guests who were crying for joy.

Their response was understandable...they were refugees who had been beaten and lost body parts in Hussein's prisons. But as much as I despise what went on in that country, I could not bring myself to rejoice.

It isn't appropriate. And their ideas do not die with them.

6:05 AM  
Blogger Trevor said...

There are people I won't miss, but I don't rejoice in death. I might think good riddance, but I usually (not always) keep it to myself.

Angry militantism (no matter what your brand) is always going to turn more people off than it turns on. At least I hope so. Walk quietly and carry a big stick is better philosophy than rant and rave until everyone leaves the room and ignores you in the future.

10:36 AM  
Anonymous Mary Ann said...

You may be right that rejoicing at the death of someone you don't like is embarassing, distastful and inappropriate. But those are not good reasons not to do it. Is there a right or wrong about it? I can't picture a situation when rejoicing at death would be appropriate - or right - and I'm not sure why.

5:14 AM  
Blogger Zheng junxai5 said...

adidas running shoes
coach outlet
oakley sunglasses
true religion outlet online
kate spade outlet
michael kors handbags
nike air force 1 white
nike outlet
adidas superstar shoes
michael kors purses
michael kors handbags
cheap jordan shoes
louis vuitton purses
beats by dre outlet
pandora jewelry
air jordan 8
michael kors outlet
concord 11
timberland outlet
oakley outlet
rolex watches
toms wedges
kobe 8
nfl jerseys
gucci outlet
coach factory outlet online
coach factory outlet
adidas superstar trainers
ralph lauren outlet
michael kors outlet online sale
ray ban sunglasses
nike store uk
oakley outlet
michael kors handbags
tory burch outlet online
jordan 3s
ralph lauren outlet
louis vuitton outlet stores
coach outlet clearance

1:47 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

Free Hit Counters
devry university