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“Blasphemy
Posted: 19 June 2007 04:49 PM   [ Ignore ]
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When you lose control and you got no soul
Its Blasphemy.”

I enjoy a good blaspheme every now and then.  There’s nothing wrong with it and it keeps me off the streets.  However, there are those who would take issue on this point and I thought I’d start a thread about it.  Here are my views on it to start us off:

I don’t think it’s a viable concept.  Rhetoric is a part of communication; sure it’s formalised and often descends into Vaudeville, but it’s something we human’s do.  It is a skill, if you will, the careful blending of public speaking ploys and strategems, the reasoning, persuading, the listening and responding, the audience awareness… etc.  And one of those skills, like it or not, is ridiculing someone else’s opinion so that others may join in.  If someone else’s opinion is poorly supported that makes it easier.

I also take issue with the phrase “I respect other people’s religious beliefs”.  I only respect people’s beliefs when they either mirror my own or blow mine out of the water.  I respect people’s rights to believe in whatever they want to.  But I also respect anybody’s right to mock anyone else’s beliefs (including mine) so long as it is not done in such a way as to inspire hatred of that person or group of people.

I also think that there is nothing I’m ever likely to say that is so deeply offensive that it isn’t already covered by the sentence “God is omnipotent”.  Bear with me on this one.  You see anyone who’s omnipotent can kiss my ass right now.  And okay were you to say they can’t and were I to accept that an omnipotent being for some reason can’t kiss my ass right now… that being can still eat my hairy plumbs.  That omnipotent being can even be a woman.  Heck, I know a whole heap of people who can be women and (whilst competent individuals) they’re not even omnipotent.  And if we were to carry this on until we had the full list of things that a person might decide were blasphemous if a malevolent individual were to apply them to his or her God, and then to exclude that list from the things his/her God could do/be…. we’d have to say that this God was now a long way from being omnipotent.  Which could be construed as blasphemy.  So, nobody really wins with the concept of blasphemy except perhaps those whose God’s aren’t purported to be omnipotent.

That was my take on it, tell me yours and I promise just to read and not argue.

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Posted: 19 June 2007 08:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Sure, everyone should have the right to offend anyone they want. Should they actually do it? Usually, it’s mean-spirited and counterproductive, or even just juvenile and silly, to piss people off for the sake of it. Respect doesn’t mean just intellectual respect. I don’t intellectually respect people’s religious beliefs because I think they are bogus. But I do respect that people feel strongly about things and that these things have meaning for them, and I see no value, no utility, no humanist or compassionate spirit in offending poeple wihtout good cause. Sometimes we have good cause, and I wouldn’t censor anybody, but often we just mock people for amusement or to make ourselves feel better than those we mock, and I don’t really care for that, FWIW. So blaspheme away, but I probably won’t pay much attention.

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Posted: 19 June 2007 09:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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My take is that if something isn’t succinct, I lose interest after about six lines.  So, I don’t have a take on it.

Occam

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Posted: 19 June 2007 11:11 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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If someone doesn’t think it sacred, then it’s not necessarily blasphemy.  In other words, you can’t offend someone if they don’t believe in God or what have you.  It just depends who you are with or who you are speaking to at the time.

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“Sometimes in order to see the light, you have to risk the dark.” ~ Iris Hineman (Lois Smith) The Minority Report

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Posted: 05 August 2007 03:10 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Here’s my (unscientific) take on blasphemy. I don’t think it’s simply about being offended, nor showing respect for beliefs. I think blasphemy is kin to the Newspeak language in Orwell’s novel 1984: an attempt to make anti-religious thought & speech impossible. This is why the Blasphemy Challenge was so powerful and important. It was people not being afraid to express ideas dangerous to the religious establishment.

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Posted: 05 August 2007 06:39 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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I would certainly go along with this last post.  That is its function exactly.

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Posted: 05 August 2007 10:59 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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I have a family member that is becoming christian. When I argue, I like using extreme examples like the example of an omnipotent being that is able to kiss someone’s ass, because I think it demonstrates well the absurdities of beliefs.  She however, tells me she is very offended by such examples.

Do you think that in such a case it is wrong to use “offensive” examples, because it “hurts her feelings” - or simply not a wise strategy?


Might it be that if a person is in need of an imaginary friend, to suggest that the friend doesn’t exist is not a moral thing to do?

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Posted: 05 August 2007 11:06 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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FWIW, I think it’s fine to try and convince someone their irrational beliefs are irrational, even if they don’t want to hear it. But I do think that it is kinder, and likely more effective, to do so as gently and considerately as possible. Gratuitously offending someone only hardens their position and further closes their minds. So while I have no moral objection to blasphemy, since I agree it is an attempt to use social coercion to suppress criticism of dominant religions, I think it is rarely useful or helpful, beyond occassionally demonstrating that one doesn’t actually get struck by lightening for it.

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Posted: 05 August 2007 11:28 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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wandering - 05 August 2007 10:59 AM

Do you think that in such a case it is wrong to use “offensive” examples, because it “hurts her feelings” - or simply not a wise strategy?

Agreeing with Brennen here—I don’t think it’s a wise strategy to be offensive if you want to change someone’s mind. All you’ll end up doing is hardening their position, and make them think worse of you. Being offensive is good play for the “home team”, if you will. It gives courage to those who already are disposed to agree with you.

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Posted: 05 August 2007 11:33 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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dougsmith - 05 August 2007 11:28 AM
wandering - 05 August 2007 10:59 AM

Do you think that in such a case it is wrong to use “offensive” examples, because it “hurts her feelings” - or simply not a wise strategy?

Agreeing with Brennen here—I don’t think it’s a wise strategy to be offensive if you want to change someone’s mind. All you’ll end up doing is hardening their position, and make them think worse of you. Being offensive is good play for the “home team”, if you will. It gives courage to those who already are disposed to agree with you.

What would you say of Monty Python? Is it “bad strategy”?

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Posted: 05 August 2007 11:46 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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wandering - 05 August 2007 11:33 AM

What would you say of Monty Python? Is it “bad strategy”?

Strategy?

Monty Python is some of the most brilliant comedy ever written! But they didn’t have any sort of political strategy in writing it ... at least for all I know.

Maybe you are asking whether it would be a good strategy to take a Christian to see Life of Brian ... Well, one lovely thing about that movie is that it need not be seen as offensive—after all, they do explicitly show that Brian isn’t Jesus. That said, I do expect that some Christians would be offended by it. And as a strategic move, if you want to convince them to leave Christianity, it’d be better not to show the film to people likely to be offended by it. A more relaxed or liberal Christian could see the film and enjoy it ... not sure it’d convince them of anything either, but then more relaxed Christians aren’t so hung up on the literal truth of the whole thing anyhow. At least not in my experience.

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Posted: 05 August 2007 01:56 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Life of Brian was disappointing to me. With all the hullabaloo about it I heard, I thought it was going to be way more offensive than it was. So it ruined the movie for me. But Meaning of Life, now that was offensive. smile

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Posted: 05 August 2007 01:57 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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If someone says don’t offend their God because “it upsets me” that is a ways round the fact that you’re unlikely to accept “it’s blasphemous” as an argument.  it is a ways of getting the “Do no question” motif in there by a backdoor method.  Now, someone who gets offended by proxy like that has made a conscious decision to let it upset them.  I have no sympathy for this.  You could try ” Now, look here old thing, I wasn’t offending you I was offending your God, and if you can just bring him on out here, we can discuss the matter ourselves, and it needn’t concern you.

Better yet, you could expound to her the argument of the great “wet lettuce”.

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Posted: 05 August 2007 02:32 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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Well, the problem is that I don’t think people necessarily make a conscious decision to be offended on behalf of their believes. We can’t ignore that they really believ these things, that the ideas and beliefs are important to them, that they’ve been trained since childhood usually to feel strongly about threats to their beliefs. Doesn’t mean they have a right to pre-empt criticism, but I don’t think it’s fair to characterise their offense as a ploy to avoid criticism. Given that the offense is genuine, I hold with what I said above-namely I think criticsm is fair even if unwanted, but I think the more we go out of our way to deny or ignore people’s feelings, the less effectively we are communicating with them

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Posted: 05 August 2007 03:07 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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So, you don’t even want to hear the argument of the great “wet lettuce” then?

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Posted: 05 August 2007 03:36 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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Sorry, I missed that you had slyly dropped in a reference I was supposed to find intriguing. wink By all mean, tell us about the “wet lettuce” argument!

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