Stop talking sh*t

If you open your ears you’ll hear lots of people talking lots of rubbish most of the day. Often, it’s stuff they heard someone else say and, being a bit dim and incapable of thinking for themselves, they decide to repeat it. When you challenge them they often reply with “Yeah, well, that’s my opinion” as if this in itself is a stout defence of stupidity. What they really mean is “Oh shit, I’m talking crap and someone’s noticed. What do I do? I know, I’ll state that it’s my opinion and hope they go away”.

(1) “ISIS is not Islamic”

Barack Obama likes this one. Apparently, those nice people at ISIS, IS, ISIL etc. are “not Islamic” because they don’t represent “true Islam”. Hey, doofus, there is no “true Islam” just like there’s no “true” interpretation of any other religion either. But if there is a “true” Islam then shouldn’t you come out and say whether it’s the Sunni or Shia interpretation that is “true”? That would be fun.*

You can’t say that a non-violent interpretation of a religion is “true” just because it happens to suit you. Religion is steeped in violence and various holy books prescribe violence for all sorts of “sin”, and the Koran is one such book. Those psychopaths are Islamic, whether you like it or not.

It’s like men with moustaches denying that Saddam Hussein was a man with a moustache, or Sagittarians denying that Stalin was a Sagittarius.

 

(2) “Atheism is a religion”

No, it isn’t.

Religion as a word stems from the Latin ‘religio’ which, roughly translated, means reverence for gods and the sacred. You can’t be “religious” if you don’t believe in “God”, no matter how much religious people would like to smugly tell you otherwise.

If atheism is a religion then I take part in the sports of “not playing tennis”, “not playing cricket”, “not playing badminton” and “not playing rugby”.

 

(3) “What God meant was…”

Sorry? You’re interpreting the words of the Maker of Heaven and Earth? Have you checked with him that he’s happy for you to do this? If I was him, I’d be a little bit pissed off that one of my creations was running around telling everyone what it is I meant when I said something. I’d probably think that, having written it all down for them in my book, they didn’t need to “interpret” anything.

Do these people buy a Haynes’ car manual and then “interpret” what “change the oil” means, or do they just change the oil? I mean, if you think that a holy book is really the word of “God”, isn’t that enough for you?

“Well, it says to change the oil but what I think it means is…”

No, it means “change the oil”.

 

(4) “My religion is the true religion”

OK. Get a sheet of paper. Divide into two columns. Write the name of your religion in the left-hand column and the name of ALL the other religions in the right-hand column. Feel free to stop when you get to two or three thousand or when your arm is about to drop off. On the back of the sheet of paper write “None”.

What are the chances that, even if “None” is incorrect and “God” does exist, you happen to have been born into the religion (and most people are born into their religion) that is the “true” religion? What makes you so sure about that, other than years of indoctrination and brainwashing?

If patriotism is the belief that your country is superior because you happen to have been born in it, doesn’t the same thing apply here?

 

(5) “I wouldn’t be allowed to do that over there”

This is a particular favourite of ignorant idiots. A group of people, often with a different skin colour to the great intellect who spouts this bollocks, want to do something that wouldn’t be allowed in “their” country. The ignorant idiot therefore opposes it, although of course he would oppose it on principle anyway. He just thinks this is a clever argument, despite it being anything but.

(a) How he knows what he may be allowed to do in a foreign country he couldn’t even find on a map is based on assumption rather than actual knowledge.

(b) He’s often wrong, and if he wanted to he could actually do the very same thing in “their” country. (Not that he ever would, as just being able to walk and talk at the same time is his highest achievement in life so far).

(c) “Their” country is often a hellhole from which they have escaped, precisely BECAUSE freedom is severely restricted.

(d) If it isn’t, then “their” country is often the UK, having been born and bred here.

(e) The idea that you base your morality on what a group of intolerant psychopaths do in a foreign country is a peculiar one. Don’t you decide right from wrong based on how you were raised and the values you were taught? Since when do we prevent people from doing something on the basis that we wouldn’t be able to do that thing in another country?

It would be like a conversation with a Russian in the 1970s that went along the lines of:

“You’ve escaped from the Soviet Union, leaving everyone you have ever known and your entire way of life, and now you want to vote in our General Election? Ha! I wouldn’t be allowed to do that over there, would I? No chance mate. Only when I can vote in Russian elections will you be able to vote in British ones. That’s fair, isn’t it”?

 

* He’s a politician, so obviously he’d avoid a proper question and say that they are both “true” as long as they preach non-violence. Then he’d order more air raids on some kids or shepherds somewhere.

 

Totally b(ark)ing

This “Noah” film that’s about to be released has stirred-up quite a bit of controversy lately, but not of the type that you might reasonably expect.

To recap, the whole “Noah’s Ark” story is the Genesis tale of a man (obviously, this is religion after all) who builds a huge ship-like vessel in order to save himself, his family, and a very small sample of the world’s creatures from a great flood. He does this on the advice of God. Oh, and it’s God who causes the flood. So it’s the usual believable Biblical stuff really. God’s upset, God throws a hissy-fit, God wants to kill lots of things in order to show how really ticked-off he is but has the good sense to not want to kill everything on the planet.

Quite why a God who made EVERYTHING in six days would regard creating a few new creatures as an onerous task I have no idea. If I was him and I was in one of my moods, I’d just wipe out the whole stinking mess, animal, mineral or vegetable. But God takes pity on a very small percentage of the Earth’s living creatures. He’s nothing if not fair.

Of course, the fish are relatively relaxed about the whole “flood” thing, being aquatic creatures and all that. Old Noah was apparently spared the task of fitting out his vessel with an aquarium or two. Again, nice of God to think of others at such a trying time.

Anyway, the whole story is held very dear by Christians, Jews and Muslims. It plays a part in all the respective holy books, though of course they don’t agree about the exact details. There are also parts of the Islamic faith that regard depictions of Koranic figures, such as prophets like Noah, as prohibited. The view is that they may encourage idolatry, i.e people may come to worship the image rather than Allah himself. And this is where Russell Crowe comes in.

Mr Crowe, in playing the part of “Noah”, is depicting an Islamic prophet. And it’s just not on, apparently. Governments have banned, or are about to ban, the film from playing inside their territory. Qatar, Bahrain and the UAE are amongst those banning the film, and more will follow. (And before Western Christians get too uppity about this, they should not forget the way “Jerry Springer – The Opera” and “The Last Temptation of Christ” were received by many in their camp).

So a film is banned because it goes against what a certain religion apparently stands for (though, as is usual, even within Islam there are various strands of thought that take exception to something, and various strands which do not). There are worse things in life than a film being banned, of course, though many of those “worse things” are especially common in the kind of countries that ban films on religious grounds.

Banning something because it “offends” a religion, or doesn’t proffer the required amount of “respect” to that religion, is utter bullshit. It betrays a kind of weakness inherent to that religion, an admission that the sand upon which that religion is founded is very soft and may give way at any point. What if I worship a teapot as my “God”? May I require that a film is banned because it portrays my “God” as having teabags placed inside him (it’ll probably be a “him”) before he has hot water poured inside him?

Or would people say “You carry on worshipping your teapot mate, but leave the rest of us to watch the film”?