Thursday, November 26, 2015

Hate speech

Some religious people, actually quite a lot of religious people, think that when someone says something like "treating Women like property is wrong" or "believing in God is a delusion" or "Gay people should be given equality under the law" or "all genital mutilation is bad" then this represents "hate speech", they say it insults their deeply held beliefs and therefore offends them; I disagree but there we are, it's a childish and irrational point of view, but I suppose it's a point of view.

However, when they say to a small child something like "if you don't believe the same thing as me then you'll burn in a lake of fire for ever" then this (according to them) is simply "freedom of conscience", an inalienable right ? Personally I define hate speech as something hateful directed at an individual or group of physical Humans, not an idea, philosophy or a policy. For me, saying to someone's face that they're going to eternally burn for not believing x or y is much closer to hate speech than saying the Bible is wrong about the big bang. I experienced this first-hand the other day and it felt surreal!

I was talking to a Christian (Baptist flavour), we're not close friends but it's someone I've known for years (our kids go to the same school) and we were having a friendly (touchline) chat about evolution. I didn't realise previously, but he's a denier, so we were talking about all the various pillars of evidence for it (which he knew nothing about) and we talked about all of the supporting science that would have to be wrong if evolution were also wrong, things like Geology, Physics, Chemistry, Biology etc. We also touched on atheism, and what I thought about that etc., but he gave me the impression that he'd never heard or read a single one of the many, many arguments against his position, ever.

Now this isn't a stupid man, he's polite, funny, well educated, successful, well travelled and went to a fabulous school (Wellington) Anyway, we ended the conversation cordially and in the parting comment he shrugged his shoulders, shook his head and said "I don't understand why you don't just become a Christian, I'm sorry, you're a good bloke but you are going to hell". I wasn't offended, I just laughed, that kind of nervous laugh that says "get me out of here" ; but honestly, what a crock of nonsense, how can these people expect not to be ridiculed when they believe things like this?

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