Indiscriminate Fire

October 22, 2010

There are somewhere around 20,000 accidental gunshot wounds in the United States every year. There are over a hundred thousand deliberate gunshot wounds in the United States, and you can bet that many (perhaps most) of those people would have never been injured or killed if the assailant didn’t have a gun. Yet millions upon millions of Americans insist that it is their absolute, inarguable right to continue to carry those guns around. There’s no secret where they get that impression. It’s right there in the Second Amendment: “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” Now, that amendment was written in the 1790s and was based off of the English Bill of rights written in the 1680s, and there’s no question that life now is a hell of a lot different from how it was 330 years ago, yet here we are, yapping about how our right to bear arms (who even says the phrase “bear arms” anymore?) is irrevocable.
Fact is, we hold up our Constitution as our inalienable rights all the time. Fundamentalists claim that the tenth amendment allows states to stop teaching science. Liberal activists use popular pressure to stop sponsoring conservative opinion, while big businesses use financial pressure to stop sponsoring liberal opinion, and even they’re both blatant attempts at censorship, they defend it as Free Speech. The President refuses to end Don’t Ask Don’t Tell or mandate funding for government health care because the Constitution cites that it’s Congress’s job. Dennis Kucinich carries the damn thing in his pocket. It seems that the one thing all Americans agree on is that The Constitution is the most essential foundation of the American way of life.
So. I’m sitting and listening to a lecture on why religion is dangerous, and they cite that the Bible and the Quran have all these passages in them which promote evil deeds, slavery, murder, and so on. Sure, most Muslims are peaceful, but if they are, it’s only because they don’t really follow the Quran. Most Christians are tolerant, but that’s because they’re “cultural” Christians, not religious fundamentalists. But, they note, all these terrorists, suicide bombers, martyrs of Islam, they cite the Quran, how they’re going to get 46 virgins and be with Gabriel in Heaven. Gay-hating Christians cite Deuteronomy to defend their virulent homophobia. Therefore, it is argued, it is essential that we divorce ourselves from these books which demand such horrific behavior of its readers.
And I’m thinking, what the fuck? Since when did the bad apples ruin the bunch? They point out that it’s not just a perversion of the religious texts—it’s written right in there! You must stone the gays! You will be rewarded in the afterlife for killing infidels! Well, big shots, the United States Constitution says that slavery is legal and the more slaves you have, the more influence you get in Washington (to the tune of three votes for every five slaves). Then when we grew up we thought, fuck that, slavery is an abomination. And we scratched it out. Just like how the Catholic Papacy and most independent churches have been pretty agreeable that evolution is a credible thing, and that just coveting another person’s goods isn’t the end-all to moral behavior.
The people who still believe the world is 6,000 years old are ignorant, plain and simple, and they lack the self-esteem to suggest that they don’t understand how people got here. There are still a hell of a lot of Christians who have some serious problems with gays. That is bad. There are a few folks out there right now hinting that our country is ripe to become a theocracy, and they’re quick to point out that the Constitution never says the phrase “separation of church and state.” So let’s an install a Christian theocracy! We’ll still make no law prohibiting the free exercise of other religions, just like there’s no law in Afghanistan prohibiting Christians from practicing their faith there. It’s only if people convert from Muslim to Christianity then they’ll kill you. Well, secularists are certainly against this train of thought. But it doesn’t even make mention of the Bible, it makes mention of the Constitution. So where are these humanist scholars, demanding that people stop abiding by the Constitution since it’s sufficiently vague to allow people to come to such conclusions!?
Final thought: there are more pedophiles in the teaching profession than just about any other profession. Anyone making the claim that teachers are therefore more evil and misled as a whole are in need of some serious schooling in logic. The reason there are more pedophiles in the profession is because it’s the perfect environment for a child molester to pick up prey. But we sure as hell don’t demand that there should no longer be teachers. Teachers do important, valuable things for our community, things nobody else does. There are countless incidents of police officers beating or killing innocent civilians. That’s not because they’re a cop. It’s because the kind of person who has the desire to be able to beat and kill people and get away with it are going to be naturally drawn to a career on the force. It doesn’t mean that we should get rid of police.
That’s the extreme we need to back away from. Religion deserves the same inquiry and skepticism as anything else, and it does not deserve the immunity to questions that it currently enjoys. But if you say the Catholic Church should be dismantled because it doesn’t properly discipline or punish its pedophiles is revealing of your own bigotry. The correct answer is: The Catholic Church MUST do everything in its power to keep people out of the clergy who will so grossly abuse the trust and power that it comes with, and that is non-negotiable. If you say that by believing in the Bible, you are by necessity perpetuating the fall of civilization because prophecies see the end times as a good thing, you’re breeding intolerance without contributing to a solution. The correct answer is: the part of that book citing that Jesus will return to Earth and take you with him to Heaven is bullshit, and that is non-negotiable. If Muslims believe that they will be cast out of God’s kingdom unless they fight a jihad against the heathen Americans, the correct response is: you have no idea what happens after you die, but a guarantee you that if you take a shot at us, we’re going to make sure you live a long, horrible life here on Earth in prisons so bad we have to house them in Cuba. And we can do it, too. Our Constitution says we can.
But as for the rest of his religion, what’s it to you?