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What's in the banner?
Thursday, June 26, 2003
OK, everyone, get out your pencils and paper, and write this down: "In the modern world, there is no minority group so oppressed, so marginalized, that the creation of an advocacy group cannot worsen their plight."---Me
In this case, the marginalized and oppressed are atheists, and Richard Dawkins is swaggering to their aid.
This article reeks of smug. Great waves of smug roll from it and envelope my keyboard. It falls to the floor and wafts over the carpet. Anybody know where I can buy some smug remover? I'm fresh out.
He begins by talking about "consciousness-raising", which I'm sure at one time was a dewy fresh idea, but now it's a multi-billion dollar industry. "Consciousness raised, buffed, and tuned! Show up your friends! Be better than everyone else on your block!"
After touching on Northern Hemisphere chauvinism and male chauvinism, he attacks theist chauvinism, homing in on the tiny, precious baybeez:
Otherwise known as keeping a constant, humorless vigil designed to wear down the unsaved heathen until he gives in and adopts the outward trappings of your faith, just to shut you and your fellow harpies up.
Oops. Did I just use a religious metaphor? Heavens...
Ahhh...and that was what this was all about, right? Influencing the little tykes' minds.
Friend, I guarantee you that only those children who have no need of such "consciousness raising" will benefit by it. Only those whose parents are already disposed to admit the possibility of atheism in their own households will crack the linguistic code and wonder if it means anything for them. The others will embrace or reject their parents' faith in the fullness of time, as ever before.
Onward into the modern social Hell, whose path is paved with you-know-what:
I expect they'll be doing plenty of flinching on the spot. Please do feel free to reply, "Why don't you shut your smug yap, you insufferable shrew. Take your post-modern piety and shove it firmly up your preternaturally-tight sphincter. And take off that halo, it's cutting off the blood supply to your brain."
This is precisely like being confronted by the big-haired, tightly-smiling Church Lady who attempts to pry into your marital status or religious inclinations. Perhaps Dawkins is not dismayed by the prospect of turning into what is essentially a narrow-minded small-town scold, but I'll pass, thanks.
We retreat from this vision of the Pit to take in a different one:
Oh, God. No we don't. But we do need a cast. We seem to have broken our arm patting ourselves on the back.
Ugh. This example would more readily suggest the twees, the smugs, the smarmies, the preciouses (hmmm...), or the insufferables. I could go on---the emetics, the ipecacs, the...
Dawkins then assures us that all the really Smart Set (as exemplified by the membership of the National Academy of Sciences) are atheists.
So apparently the acceptance of the term "bright" hinges on whether your audience actually is accepting of atheists. The whole exercise seems a bit moot at that point. Otherwise, the only way you have avoided the terrible stigma of "atheist" is if you have given your hearers a tremendous laugh at your expense. They now think you're too goofy (i.e., stupid) to be any harm. The more humorless Church Lady types, however, now believe that not only are you one of the Godless, you're weird too.
Dawkins concludes his imaginary conversation:
Uh...DIM?? Dull? Dark? Occluded? Cloudy?
HAW! HAW! HAW! What wit, Professor Dawkins! Well said, sir!
What a jerk. This whole column is embarrassingly childish and simplistic for a man who prides (and I do mean prides) himself on his intellect. You can imagine Maureen Dowd writing much of it.