Feb 13, 2015

Chapel Hill

On Tuesday this week, an atheist gunned down three Muslims in Chapel Hill.

Apparently I must begin by saying that I disapprove of murder; I would go so far as to say that I disapprove of nearly all violence, with about the only exception being in defense against the violent.  This was a despicable act.

But let us note, in passing, the rank hypocrisy of a society in which three Muslims can go on a mass-murder spree in France while screaming vengeance for the prophet and a veritable tidal wave of commentary will deny any connection to religion, but if just one of a depressingly long list of 'Murkan parking disputes gone bad features an atheist as a perpetrator, then it's crisis time for the entire movement.  Where is your Aslan, now?  Oh that's right, retweeting Dawkins-bashing, 'atheists have no grounds for morality'-regurgitating pablum that wanks itself silly with delight that atheism is a faith, and its adherents no more righteous than those of any other.

Go fuck yourself, Lion-boy.  On a somewhat lighter note, you also have articles like: Moderate atheists claim anti-theist Chapel Hill killer took The God Delusion ‘out of context.  Which ... I do think this is funny, but there's two key differences: 1) atheists, moderate or otherwise, don't revere 'The God Delusion' as a Holy Book, and 2) 'The God Delusion' doesn't actually say to go kill the believers. Contrast the believers who really do revere a Holy Book, which really does say all the nasty things that their extremists get off on.

The reaction in the atheist community has been a bit mixed; you've got the aforementioned, 'People shooting people over parking spots is totally a thing (U!S!A!  U!S!A!), what on earth can you extrapolate from the minor statistical anomaly of both perpetrator and victim holding opposed minority viewpoints on religion?'  On the other end, you've got Heina relating her experience as a Muslim/ex-Muslim having to disavow terrorist attacks to her own similarities with Hicks and PZ advising us to own it, reiterating his familiar point that atheist must go beyond disbelief in one particular truth-claim

Somewhere in the middle, perhaps, was Hemant's reaction, which I might summarize as 'Yeah, this isn't our fault, but since he was one of ours we need to nut up, condemn violence, and stand in solidarity with a grieving community.'

As for myself, my first instinct is the vociferous denial that this had aught to do with me; my second instinct is to mistrust the first--reflexive defense of tribe and self against any criticism removes the corrective mechanism for actual errors.  I accept that a healthy contempt and criticism of bad ideas can bleed over into animus towards and dehumanization of those that hold them.  If this contributed to Hick's actions, then that is deeply regrettable.  But on current evidence, the incident looks like the power to take a life corrupted an ammosexual who was only incidentally atheistic.  We all have moments where we get so mad we can't see straight.  The difference between the "normals" and the gun-fondlers is that the latter are vastly more likely to be in possession of human killing devices when that occurs.

This verdict is defeasible by further evidence.  For now, though, I condemn this senseless and despicable act, and my heart goes out to the family and friends of the victims.

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