Saturday, July 14, 2007

On Intolerance

I've been called intolerant, again. I always find it ironic when members of an intolerant church -- and most are wildly intolerant -- complain about intolerance, conceptually. Because the truth is that, yes, I am intolerant of most forms of religion. I mean, duh, look at my journal!

However, and this is not generally touched on when people start up this sort of thing, is that there are many forms of good intolerance. For instance, I'm just going to assume that everyone that reads this is fairly intolerant concerning Nazism, or Stalinism, or pimps, or organized crime, or torturers.

So, I set out to determine what constitutes benevolent intolerance! I came up with two criteria. The first is -- there must be a substantial justification for intolerance. Meaning, you've got to have a good reason. The second is -- what you propose to do should be appropriate to the offenses.

Let us take my intolerance of the Catholicism and the Catholic Pope, He Who Zings Rats (which is a very mild satire, I should point out out, totally not like calling someone's mom a whore -- I say this because I've been accused of that, believe it or not!).

The reasons why I am intolerant of Catholicism and the Catholic Pope. The organization is sexist: it is anti-birth control (which has made worse the epidemic of AIDS, leading to numerous deaths, I should add), anti-abortion, anti-divorce and forbids women into positions of power in the Catholic Church. It engages in massive, wide-spread campaigns of intimidation: it says that anyone who doesn't follow the Pope's rules goes to Hell, it threatens people with eternal suffering in order to spread itself and maintain its congregations. The Catholic Church's unelected officials, this is the Pope specifically, interfers with the politics of other countries, such as threatening excommunication for politicians who don't create laws supporting an anti-abortion agenda. I could go on, but these are some of the big ones. I think that they are true (indeed, obvious) and serious. People's lives are often at stake, and the welfare of whole countries. No joke.

And what do I want to do about it? Engage in occasional light satirization of the Pontiff Who Zings Rats. That's mostly it.

Now, let us compare what the Pope Who Zings Rats and his intolerance towards Protestants. Why is the Pope intolerant of Protestants? Because their leaders don't have apostolic succession. What is the consequences of this? Well, uh, since their leaders don't have apostolic succession, it means none of their rites -- including baptism, communion and marriage -- are "real" and it means they're . . . all . . . going to Hell.

You MIGHT see some differences in the substance of the intolerance, here. Oh, I know, for the Catholics apostolic succession is an element of their dogma and they take it very seriously -- but it isn't very meaningful to non-Catholics. It is the Catholic Church again trying to push itself off on people that don't want it's interference (which is a common theme in the reasons I loathe the Catholic Church -- it systematically is trying to push off itself on people who don't want it, and who are often hurt in the process). And for this "sin", the Pope affirms that all those Protestants are going to burn in Hell forever! Now, I of course do not believe in Hell, but they do. I know that no Protestants are very scared of Papal threats (they've had five hundred years to get used to them, after all), and further many Protestants believe that Catholics are as hellbound as Catholics believe Protestants to be for equally absurd reasons, but the Pope is threatening these people in a very real way with hellfire, he's really trying to intimidate them!

A comparable situation might be if my intolerance of Catholics included, say, a plea to have them rounded up and put in "reeducation camps" where they'd be given electric shock therapy to turn them into good atheists. While it would be laughable that I suggested such a thing, because I altogether lack the authority to make it happen, it would still be really, really disturbing that I'd want to do it at all. (Just like it is disturbing that many neo-nazis want to kill non-whites -- they can't do it, but it's horrible that they want to do it.) So to with the Catholic Church. It is horrific that the Pope is comfortable of it happening (especially since he can do something about it -- he could easily write an ex cathedral papal bull saying that all Christian leaders henchforth have apostolic succession on his own authority, that they forevermore have apostolic succession from St. Peter's throne, but I guess it's just easier to remind them they've all got defective churches and are going to Hell), and wills it to happen.

So, at any rate, I hope I've given some people something to think about when people frivolously bring up the whole intolerance thing. Remember, it matters why you're intolerant and what you propose to do with that intolerance. If your intolerance is backed up with firm reasoning and your intentions are benevolent, you go!


Infidel753 said...

I think there's a distinction between intolerance and mere criticism. Intolerance, to me, means a refusal to tolerate something -- that is, an intention to take steps to eradicate or remove it.

Many Christian groups are very intolerant by that standard. They don't just criticize things like abortion, pornography, or homosexuality; at various times they've advocated laws to actually prohibit those things.

If there are any atheists calling for laws to prohibit Christianity, then I have yet to hear about it.

Vigorous criticism or even ridicule of a religion are not the same thing as intolerance. We are not trying to infringe on their freedom, the way they so often try to do with everyone else's.

Chris Bradley said...


I'm willing to own up to the notion that I'm intolerant of most religions. I'm pretty intolerant of their bullshit doublespeak argument, and I'm increasingly intolerant of their attempts to intimidate me into obedience to their religion (I get this in letters pretty often, and ALL THE TIME on my YouTube account, people bringing up hellfire and all that), not to mention that I think that religious people abuse their children with all the talk of punishment and eternal damnation. I acknowledge that from the religious point of view -- and most religions are v. used to a high level of exceptionalism and prestige -- that I'm intolerant. I just don't admit that intolerance is bad. I've got good reasons to believe as I do, and I'm not suggesting anything bad.

I think in a more perfect world you'd be right, of course. Since I'm not talking about depriving anyone of their rights or talking about systematically destroying religious organizations, I am willing to tolerant religions (if just barely), but I also acknowledge from their POV that I am definitely intolerant of their ideas and some of their actions in a substantial way.

Anonymous said...

"it matters why you're intolerant and what you propose to do with that intolerance."

You make a great point here. There is certainly a need for distinction between tolerance of a belief system and tolerance of the actions caused by that belief system.

The basic atheist/theist debate is between those who see the facts, and say these are the facts; and those who refuse to see the facts, do not accept them and still want to debate.

The mainstream media has taken the insane stance that all views are valid and have a right to be voiced. So one, without any validity, argues against one with verifiable fact. This now has spread throughout the nations (U.S.) thought processes as a valid concept. Which it isn't.

You are intolerant of institutionalized persuasive tactics that cause delusion, prey on the delusional and promote further wide spread delusion. This is valid because the facts are plentiful that these actions produce irreparable damage, this is easily established (unfortunately reproducible) and reasonably succinct.

The religious are intolerant simply because they do not like others actions based solely on their delusions.

huge difference.

Monkey Rocket Surgeon

Crushed by Ingsoc said...

Thing is, your perfect Utopia involves the elimination of my belief, which ultimately, must involve the elimination of people like me.
That's intolerance.

Whereas I have no problem with other people's faith decisions.

To try and present my opinions as intolerant is laughable.

Chris Bradley said...


First, where have I said that my utopia requires the "elimination" of your belief? I'd be interested to see where I said that, because to my knowledge I never have. I think that you, like most Christians, do some projection in that regards, after all . . .

Second, your belief is trying to eliminate people like me. You keep glossing over the fact that the Catholic Church wants EVERYONE to be Catholic, and is working towards this goal.

Lord Straf-Bilderberg said...

No, no, never let it be said that you're intolerant. Just sadly astray and wide of the mark but hell - anyone can make mistakes.

Chris Bradley said...

See, being WRONG is a different issue from being INTOLERANT. I'm wrong about a great many things (tho' not particularly about religion, hehe).

MJW said...

I see no problem with criticising religion, if someone’s beliefs cannot stand questioning then they’re obviously not strong enough to be called beliefs, but I do get annoyed when the criticism is facile; that is the critic hasn’t bothered to think too hard about what the position they are criticising actually is.

One of the common examples with the Catholic Church is that the opposition to contraception spreads AIDS, seems fine at a superficial level, but what happens when we look at the whole position? The Catholic Church opposes sex outside of marriage, inside of marriage it is for the procreation of children, therefore to follow a Catholic position observantly then there is never any need for a condom. So it comes down to cafeteria Catholicism; would people who pick and choose which bits of Catholic doctrine to follow be more or less likely use condoms if they were allowed to do so, or would they simply continue to do as they see fit by picking and choosing which bits they want to follow?

Chris Bradley said...


Your point has a big problem. Catholicism's opposition to birth control affects non-Catholics, too. When the Catholic Church leans on political leaders in, say, the United States to enforce abstinence only programs for Africans -- which it has, BTW -- the effects effect not only Catholics but everyone.

It also effects innocent Catholics, too. Such as the wife whose husband fucks a prostitute -- without a condom because Catholic interference has made condoms impossible to get -- and comes home and spreads the disease to his wife.

It also fails a fairly serious moral test in other ways. Does the sin of fornication justify a slow, lingering death? Now, perhaps the Catholic Church things that the punishment of a lingering death fits the "crime" of fornication -- but it fails the more regular moral and legal standards of proportionality, that the punishment for an office must be equivalent to the degree of the offense, and outside certain anti-pleasure religious circles no one believes that the crime of sex should be punished by a slow and painful death.

So, no, my position isn't particular facile if you think things through. Meaning if you also examine the effects of abstinence before marriage.