TAG | “offended”
The news that some in the Democratic Party might have tried to ‘out’ Bernie Sanders as an atheist was neither particularly surprising nor particularly shocking. Atheism doesn’t play well with the electorate. What’s more, to the extent that a candidate’s religious faith (or lack of religious faith) might influence his or her policies, it’s something that voters have a legitimate interest in knowing.
Nevertheless, as was probably inevitable in an age of taking offense, people have been offended.
Writing for Bustle, Raina Lipsitz grumbles that “one important group is missing from the DNC’s platform: atheists.” Naturally the word “problematic” makes an appearance later.
Naturally, “atheist groups” have called for the firing of the Democratic operative who wanted to raise Sanders’ supposed atheism. Naturally he has apologized to “those [he] offended.”
One voice of sanity is “outspoken atheist and Pulitzer-Prize-winning New York Times science columnist Natalie Angier”. Asked whether this exclusion bothers her, she replies:
“Yes, I’m an atheist … But do I care whether the Democratic platform includes an explicit nod to us atheists? Hell no….”
On the other hand:
Toni Van Pelt, president and public policy director of the Institute for Science and Human Values, disagrees. “This is the time to call on the Party to officially recognize the nonreligious as true Americans…Atheists are on a relentless march to be recognized and valued by the larger community. We will no longer accept a back seat to those who profess a faith … it would behoove the Democratic Party to reach out in a public statement to those of no religion … and [acknowledge] that the philosophy of living life to the fullest here and now is of great importance.”
Living life to the fullest!
National Catholic Reporter:
BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS Every October, many look forward to Halloween — the trick-or-treating, the parties and especially the costumes.
Every Halloween, however, many also mock religious figures with their costume choices. Costumes for badly behaved nuns, rabbis, Muslims, priests, Catholic schoolgirls, Sikhs and Buddhist monks make their way onto store shelves every year.
Some might view these costumes as harmless fun but Halloween costumes, like television programming and other media, form minds, said Fr. Gregory Labus, pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Edinburg and director of the Office of Liturgy and Worship for the Brownsville diocese.
“When it comes to television and other media, people will say, ‘I don’t believe any of that stuff,’ but if you’re watching that stuff regularly, it’s forming you. It is, little by little, making an impression on you and forming your thoughts,” he told The Valley Catholic, diocesan newspaper of Brownsville.
“I would say it’s a similar kind of case with costumes, especially with very young minds. Pregnant nuns or whatever, it’s disrespectful and it’s forming an impression that is not good. … Personally, I would say that Christian families should avoid that sort of thing,” Labus added.
That is up to Christian families to decide for themselves. But as a Roman Catholic priest, Father Labus is certainly well-qualified to give advice in that respect, whatever one might think about his sense of humor.
But then there is this:
“It’s a sign of disregard, of disrespect for people of faith,” said Sr. Nancy Boushey of the Benedictine Monastery of the Good Shepherd in Rio Grande City, whose members wear a habit. “It takes an authentic call from God and makes a mockery of it, no matter what the faith is, whether it’s Jewish or Catholic or any other faith.”
Whatever the reasons for wearing such costumes, Boushey said it is “hurtful.”
“It saddens me because it is sacred clothing for me and for others who wear it — the priests and sisters,” she said. “The clothing is sacred to us and to use it for laughs, it’s very saddening to my heart. To me, it’s a sign of disrespect of God’s call to us.”
Boushey’s failure to accept “disrespectful” disagreement—and, yes, disagreement can be that— with her notions of the sacred without taking personal offense shows a certain narrowness of mind. More than that, in a society increasingly prepared to enforce a ‘right’ not to be offended, her comments represent another small step in the direction of a muted public square.
WINOOSKI, Vt. —A sign on a lamp post at the bottom of the Winooski Circle displayed the words “Yield Sneakers Bacon” until Friday morning. The bistro owners took it down.
A city program put it in place to keep its flower beds beautiful. If businesses do some gardening they can post an advertisement where they do it, but the word “bacon” on the Sneakers Bistro sign started a discussion about diversity on the Winooski Front Porch Forum.
It started with a post from one woman who wrote that the sign was insensitive to those who do not consume pork. She said as a Muslim she is personally offended by it.
The owners of Sneakers spoke to WPTZ. They say they’ve reached out to the individual who made the post and proactively took the sign down. They also say they regret any harm caused by the sign, and that their goal was never to cause stress or bad feelings.
“It’s nice that they were respectful enough to take it down,” said Caleb Wiley an area resident, “but I also think they shouldn’t have, or had to at any right.”
Other Winooski residents joined the conversation, and online too. One post reads the word “bacon” is not offensive. It’s something that describes food.
Winooski’s city manager spoke on behalf of the city. She said:
“The cool part of living in a diverse community is that it’s not always comfortable. It’s a fascinating place with lots of opportunities for conversation. The City has to pay attention to a lot of factors while acting within what we can regulate,” said Katherine “Deac” Decarreau.
Others recognize it’s a complicated issue, too.
“I respect her religion and her right to believe what she wants but I’m pretty sure the first amendment extends to bacon and the selling of it.”
Sneakers’ owners say their goal is to provide a joyful place for the entire community.
The Winooski Islamic Community Center was not available for comment.
There is so much that’s sad about this squalid little story. There’s the importance that the Muslim woman puts on not being “personally” offended (a hypersensitivity that may be as American as it is genuinely Islamic). There is the cringing desperation to please on the part of Sneakers (“they regret any harm caused by the sign, and that their goal was never to cause stress or bad feelings”) and the refusal to treat this complaint with the contempt that it deserved.
And then there is the simpering PC babble from the city manager (“The cool part of living in a diverse community is that it’s not always comfortable. It’s a fascinating place with lots of opportunities for conversation”) complete with the absence of any recognition that this was not a “conversation” that anyone outside a madhouse should have been having, an absence of recognition shared with those at WPTZ who believe that this is a “complicated” issue.
“Complicated”? Uh, no.
Well, this is a piece of stupidity. The Daily Mail (of course!) has the details (my emphasis added):
One of Britain’s biggest hotel chains has removed Bibles from its rooms to avoid upsetting non-Christians. The decision by Travelodge has been condemned as ‘tragic and bizarre’ by the Church of England, which says Bibles in hotel rooms are important to provide hope, comfort and inspiration to travellers. But the chain, which runs 500 hotels, said the country was becoming increasingly multicultural and it had taken the action for ‘diversity reasons’.
It said the policy was implemented ‘in order not to discriminate against any religion’ – despite having had no complaints from guests. Bibles were taken away at the same time as a refurbishment of its rooms, removing drawers where they were kept. The Bibles, which were provided free by the Gideon Society, have been retained and are stored behind reception for guests to borrow on request, the company says.
A Church of England spokesman said: ‘It seems both tragic and bizarre that hotels would remove the word of God for the sake of ergonomic design, economic incentive or a spurious definition of the word “diversity”.’
It seems not all Travelodges even have Bibles available on request. At the branch in Battersea, south London, there was no Bible in the room or behind reception.
When requested, the receptionist could not find a copy and said no one had ever asked him for one in his four months of working there.Instead, he suggested using the hotel’s free wifi to ‘Google it and read it online’.
When pushed for a hard copy, he rang his manager who told him they used to have them in rooms, but hadn’t had any at the hotel since refurbishment last year….
Oh good grief.
Travelodge is a private company, it has the right to put whatever books it wants within its guests’ rooms, but the decision it has taken shows the barrenness at the heart of so much of modern multiculturalism. Lest anyone take ‘offense’, more must mean less. So out goes the Gideon Bible, another small scrap of what makes up Britain’s common culture torn away leaving, well, what behind.
The irony of this is that, by taking this step, Travelodge is sacralizing the Bible. To those of different faiths or none, the Bible is just another book, its presence neither offensive nor inconvenient or, usually, even noticed.
And yet Travelodge has chosen to make an idol of it. It would be funny if it weren’t so sad.
BRUSSELS – The European Commission has said that Poland’s prosecution of a rock group for “blasphemy” is against European values.
It said on Wednesday (31 October) in a written statement for EUobserver that “national blasphemy laws are a matter for the domestic legal order of the member states.
But it added that EU countries must respect international pacts.
It cited the European Convention of Human Rights, a Poland-signatory treaty attached to the Strasbourg-based rights watchdog, the Council of Europe, on freedom of expression.
“This right protects not only information or ideas that are favourably received or regarded as inoffensive or as a matter of indifference, but also those that offend, shock or disturb,” the commission said.
The statement comes amid a row in Poland over a heavy metal band called Behemoth.
Its lead singer, Adam Darski, while on stage in 2007, ripped up a Bible and called the Roman Catholic church a “murderous cult.”
In a case with echoes of Pussy Riot in Russia or Mohammed cartoons in Denmark, the Polish supreme court on Monday said prosecutors can go after Darski on the basis of article 196 of Poland’s penal code on “the crime of offending religious sensibilities.”
In theory, he faces two years in prison. But nobody expects a jail sentence if he loses.
A few points:
1. The EU Commission is, as usual, being disingenuous. All EU countries are required to subscribe to the (non-EU) European Convention of Human Rights.
2. No self-respecting country should pay much attention to what the supranationalist “jurists” of the European Court of Human Rights has to say about its internal affairs.
3. No decent country should have blasphemy laws, particularly blasphemy laws so intrusive that singer cannot rip up his own copy of a book and say a few (admittedly) harsh words about a religious faith.
Poland should scrap this shameful law.
The Guardian has more here:
“We’d been doing that for two years on tour before it happened in Poland,” Behemoth bassist Tomasz Wróblewski told Decibel magazine (via Blabbermouth). “We [were] not offending any particular person. We [were] just offending the religion that we’ve been raised in.”
Despite this intention, Darski was pursued by Polish courts for having offended Catholic fans. After being cleared by judges in 2010 and 2011, the singer/guitarist is again on trial. Officials in Gdansk asked the supreme court how Darski could be “offending religious feelings” if most of Behemoth’s fans expected theatrical sacrilege?
“The crime of offending religious sensibilities is committed not only by he who intends to carry it out, but also by he who is aware that his actions may lead to offence being taken,” the court said.
Ah yes, “offense”. That again.
Lansing – House Republicans prohibited state Rep. Lisa Brown from speaking on the floor Thursday after she ended a speech Wednesday against a bill restricting abortions by referencing her female anatomy.
Brown, a West Bloomfield Democrat and mother of three, said a package of abortion regulation bills would violate her Jewish religious beliefs and that abortions be allowed in cases where it is required to save the life of the mother.
“Finally, Mr. Speaker, I’m flattered that you’re all so interested in my vagina, but ‘no’ means ‘no,'” Brown said Wednesday.
Brown’s comment prompted a rebuke Thursday by House Republicans, who wouldn’t allow her to voice her opinion on a school employee retirement bill.
“What she said was offensive,” said Rep. Mike Callton, R-Nashville. “It was so offensive, I don’t even want to say it in front of women. I would not say that in mixed company.”
It rarely fails does it? The moment that some public figure starts jabbering on about something that he or she finds “offensive”, an attack on free speech is never far behind.
Paris police have arrested around 20 Christian fundamentalists who burst into a theatre and threw stink bombs to protest against a play featuring the face of Christ drizzled with fake excrement. Police made the arrests at the Theatre de la Ville, on the banks of the Seine near Notre Dame cathedral, during a performance of “On the Concept of the Face, Regarding the Son of God”, directed by Italian Romeo Castellucci. The play, which runs until October 30, is the story of an incontinent man being looked after by his son.A copy of a huge portrait of Christ by Renaissance artist Antonello da Messina hangs at the back of the stage and appears to be covered in excrement towards the end of the performance.
After days of trying to get in, the protesters on Wednesday “entered the theatre and threw stink bombs into the auditorium, shouting: ‘Enough Christianophobia!'” a police source told AFP.
France’s ministry of culture blamed the demonstration on members of the Institut Civitas, which in April protested US artist Andres Serrano’s renowned “Immersion Piss Christ” photograph in the southern papal city of Avignon. Civitas head Alain Escada said: “Our mission is to spread the word about this performance and to organise a response.”
A spectator described the protesters as “very young people who are very angry but very well dressed.” Faced with a police cordon, they throw eggs and oil at the theatre and those going in, chanting in Latin or praying on their knees.
The association of French Roman Catholic bishops on Tuesday condemned “the violence perpetrated during recent performances… France’s Roman Catholic Church is neither fundamentalist nor obscurantist (opposed to enlightenment).”
I noted before that the Civitas crowd appeared to have taken a lesson or two from the more extreme followers of another religion I could mention, and so they have in quite a few respects. The use of the ridiculous term “Christianophobia” only underlines that point.
The play itself sounds like a nightmare, but there is no, repeat, no right not to be offended.
Via the Daily Telegraph:
South Africa’s advertising watchdog has banned a television commercial depicting angels falling from heaven because they are attracted to a man’s deodorant after a complaint from a Christian.The advertisement for Axe deodorant (known as Lynx in Britain) features winged, attractive women crashing to earth in an Italian town.
The scantily-clad women are then drawn towards a seemingly unremarkable man preparing to get on a moped. They regard their quarry lasciviously while sniffing the air before one by one smashing their halos and advancing towards him.
A voice-over says: “Excite, the new fragrance from Axe. Even angels will fall”.
A viewer who complained to South Africa’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said the suggestion that God’s messengers would literally fall for a mortal being because of a deodorant was incompatible with his belief as a Christian.
ASA agreed, and ordered Unilver SA, which sells Axe deodorants, to withdraw the advertisement.
“As such, the problem is not so much that angels are used in the commercial, but rather that the angels are seen to forfeit, or perhaps forego their heavenly status for mortal desires,” it said in a statement. “This is something that would likely offend Christians in the same manner as it offended the complainant.”
Ah yes, the “right” not to be offended.