Meaningful Distinction:

Patrick S. Lasswell Look outward for something to accomplish, not inward for something to despise.
pslblog at gmail dot com
Wednesday, October 15, 2003
Legislating Morality...That Trick Never Works

As any bright can tell you, religion is a tool to keep the credulous in squalor, oppressing them endlessly and filling their lives with superstitious nonsense. In case you hadn't heard the people formerly known as atheists now want to be known as brights. Okay, most of the atheists I know probably think this is as big a steaming pile of hubris as has ever littered the green…but go with me on this one. The ones who want to be known as brights like the term because it is less laden with negative connotations than the terms previously used to identify them like atheists, arrogant bastards, and pretentious weasels. I'm more than okay with this rebranding effort because it will more clearly differentiate between the people who want to identify themselves as not believing in God and/or deities and those who want to identify themselves as clearly superior to anybody who does believe in God and/or deities.

Let me be above board with my own biases: I believe in God. My particular choice of expression of my faith is a fairly liberal Christianity that is really very open to new ideas and different beliefs. I actually have a fair amount of education in this theology stuff; my father had his Masters of Divinity from the University of Chicago Theological Seminary and I attended a very liberal Catholic University. I have seriously considered the teachings of a number of religions as well as atheism. I have also toured the world, sailed on every ocean, loved a woman, fought a man, eaten well, gone without, set foot in the tombs of the Pharaohs, and buried my father. I have been stranded in the middle of the ocean a thousand miles from the nearest land in an open boat with a dead engine while my ship sailed over the horizon. I assure you that I have given religion some serious consideration.

It is a toss up as to who is more obnoxious; proselytizing Christians or litigious Brights. Proselytizing Christians often do not feel complete until they have ruined your day by humbly making you feel like crap. Litigious Brights appear not to feel complete until they have officiously used the judicial system to enact social change that their ideas are insufficiently attractive to accomplish. Fifty years ago, confronting some very despicable totalitarians, who happened to be atheists, the US chose to differentiate the country by altering the wording of the pledge of allegiance and the design of the dollar bill. (See, everybody rebrands; no big deal.) Now the brights want to remove that differentiation and are more than happy to take the matter to the Supreme Court.

Now, if the people who are interested in retaining the differentiation were smart, they would engage in a class action lawsuit against the brights and take them for every penny they had. Who cares what the countersuit would be about; this is about predatory enforcement of personal beliefs on others using the courts, not about integrity or principles. If it was about personal beliefs, the brights could go someplace where their beliefs would be less infringed upon, nobody is keeping them here. If this was about superior ways of living and thinking, the brights could come up with a coherent dialogue that would make their case for them. More importantly, if this was about being a superior person, the brights could muster up a tithe of the tolerance that has been shown them. This is about using the courts to legislate morality. These days, maybe this wasn't such a toss up after all.
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