Tuesday, August 07, 2007

No need to think for yourself

I just finished watching this video, which shows the responses of anti-choice demonstrators in Libertyville, Illinois when asked what sort of punishment women should receive if they had an abortion after abortions became illegal. Go watch it...I'll wait...

The responses speak for themselves.

I don't want to get into the specifics about abortion (though I'll proudly admit to being pro-choice) because it's not an atheist issue. Atheists can be pro or anti-choice. I do believe, though, that it is (often) a church-state separation issue, fueled by emotion and irrationality.

My purpose in posting this video is to point out the sort of mindless sheep that are produced by religious thinking.

(I know, I know...you're not all mindless sheep, so don't get your panties in a twist about my generalization. If you're not like the folks in the video, I'm not talking about you.)

Dogma, in all of its disguises, is evil. Magical thinking poisons the mind. Religion, as a combination of the two, renders its victims unable to deal with reality, incapable of questioning their beliefs and completely unconcerned about the consequences of their actions. They're unable to follow any logical argument that might, in any way, jeopardize their beliefs.

The people in this video aren't rabid fundamentalists. They're not calling for the death penalty (though one of them allowed for that possibility). They don't fit in with the true hatemongers who call for homosexuals to be put to death like some politicians have done... and some countries. They sincerely believe they're doing the right thing — protecting innocent little babies — and none of them have given a moment's thought to anything else. They believe that they're doing god's work and that they cannot be mistaken; which makes them just as dangerous and delusional as the truly hateful. To quote William S. Burroughs:

"No one does more harm than those who feel bad about doing it."

I'm still amazed that anyone could avoid the simple concept that there's no point in making something illegal if you don't have a punishment for breaking the law... but that's not the big question, the big question is this:

Why were they able quickly and easily to proclaim that abortion is the murder of a human being and yet they couldn't quickly and easily agree to the punishment proscribed for murder?

The answer is simple. Even these sheep recognize a difference — they're just unable to act on that recognition because their brains have been poisoned by religion. They neither need nor recognize rational arguments. Somewhere, deep in the compartmentalized recesses of their minds, protected by gross rationalizations, shielded by emotional pleading, they know that their beliefs don't make any sense.

Now, if they could only be convinced to give a damn.


  1. Interesting. I live very close to Libertyville, and it's possible that these are the exact protesters who marched past my school a few months back. Being a Catholic school next to the seminary, they were hoping to be welcomed but were completely ignored.

    What a frightening video though! These people make the flamboyant effort of scaring sympathy into motorists with their fetus signs, yet they don't appear to have completely thought over their position.

  2. Heck, why make anything illegal? It's all between the criminal and their god. Ran a red light? No penalty. Manslaughter while drunk driving? No problem. Shoot your wife in a fit of jealous rage? Let God sort it out! No need for big, bad government to get involved.

    What's weird is that these are almost certainly people who also believe that government should be doing all it can to enforce their religion on everyone when it comes to prayer and such, yet they are strangely reluctant to admit that there is any need for punishment when something they believe to be a genuinely horrific crime is commited.

  3. Is it possible that these people don't want to punish the mother, but rather the doctor--you know, the one who did the "murdering"?

    I will defend laws against things like murdering, which were brought up in the video. But not on moral grounds, on social grounds. I don't think we should legislate morality.

  4. I recall seeing a guy on a panel once ask whether a person would save a freezer full of "100 viable embryos" or a baby in a stroller during a building fire, where, hypothetically, only one thing could be carried out in time.

    When I can find a person willing to say, "Of course, I'd _have_ to save those 100 babies!" I'll believe that _they_ believe what they're saying when they call abortion "murder."

  5. I don't think we should legislate morality.

    Well, you need to be careful with that one. We legislate morality all the time. We have crimes against theft and murder because those are considered acts of moral terpitude.

    What we should not be legislating is some particular religion's morality, which is usually based on ideology (and thus considers certain things which aren't immoral, like non-violent sex acts between consenting adults who happen to be unmarried) to be "immoral" based on their interpretation of their god's "laws," when their god's existence cannot be established with evidence. Laws are by necessity based on morality in most instances, but it should be a rational definition of morality rooted in the consequences of an act.

  6. While I agree that theft and murder are ethical issues, I think they should be illegal for social reasons, not moral ones. Basically, I think that murder and theft should be illegal for the same reason I think we should have universal school systems and health care. Not really moral issues. But that might just be me.

    (Discloser: I'm Canadian.)

  7. Indefual:

    I agree. My personal morality is not something I should feel compelled to dictate onto others. Group rules should be ironed out based on producing a harmonious group interaction. In the U.S. we attempt to do this while also recognizing the individual's legal right to certain freedoms--so long as they aren't harming anyone else. We don't perfectly accomplish this. But I don't see that anything should be illegal because I, or 100 people "feel" it's wrong. If it doesn't threaten society (or wouldn't on a large scale*), there is no reason to stop someone from engaging in it.

    *One person committing a crime won't bring down society--but the question is always, should this be allowed in the population--will this cause a problem if many people engage in it? That's the context I'm describing.

    I also agree that ethics--a framework of determining best practices with regard to a predetermined goal, should be kept seperate from morality--that feeling something is wrong.

    In reality, many of these definitions are flexible, but I prefer to keep them cleanly separated so that dialogues don't get muddied by confusion.

    Morality: The personal code of behavior--sometimes dictated by logic, sometimes by simply "feeling" something is wrong. But basically, the code that says "It's wrong for me to do X."

    Law: The code that dictates what is not allowed in society, under threat of penalty. The goal of law is not always the same, but most often is intended to ensure smooth/acceptable social interactions.

    More: The code of conduct informally used by society to dictate both socially correct and legally correct behavior. What the overall general population feels is "right behavior."

    Ethic: A framework of the most effective behaviors built upward from a prestated goal.

    That's normally how I separate these terms by myself.

  8. I think the only person on that video I could possibly walk by in the street without headbutting (a la Zidane) was that very young one who eventually agreed that she believed the woman should go to prison. At least she was honest (after being backed into a corner that is).

    Because, let's face it, when they actually thought about it, that's the conclusion they would have to come to, and why not? They could 'justify' it with their "abortion is murder" argument. I think most of were just bluffing to save face.


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