Friday, December 20, 2013

The Word is "Of"

Every year about this time we have whole hoards of people who are so incredibly terrified and offended by other people’s religion they think the only proper response to seeing any reminder of that religion is to take away other’s First Amendment Rights. Now I’m not talking about the yearly atheist billboards in Time’s Square. While a little snarky perhaps, that’s them expressing their religious beliefs. That’s what the First Amendment is about. No I’m talking about incidents like what happened at Gitmo base this year. A small group of anonymous servicemen were so horrified to see a small nativity scene and a couple of banners that said ‘Merry Christmas’ and so terrified to speak out against this blatant ‘religious discrimination’ they had to go to the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (which isn’t a fan ‘of’ religious freedom but a proponent ‘from’ religious freedom) instead of whoever is ostensibly in charge of decorating the base around the holidays. The military, far more concerned with PC blatherings than servicemen’s rights or common sense, promptly removed all evidence that it was December from the base. That’s the problem with PCism. In PC land the automatic response to insanity is to treat it legitimately and to force reality to conform with insanity, as opposed to demanding that the insane conform to reality. See, if a sane person perceives they are facing discrimination then the logical course of action is to assert your own rights. But for those whose egotism reaches levels of insanity, the response to perceived discrimination is to take rights away from others until they have been brought down to your perceived level. This is what happens in PC land. Despite that the federally recognized holiday is ‘Christmas’, those who are egotistically insane prefer to take away the right of expression and religion from others as opposed to assert their own rights to expression and religion. For instance, the logical response to seeing decorations celebrating a holiday that you don’t celebrate isn’t anything other than ‘oh, look, decorations’. Now, if you feel *your* preferred holiday is being left out, the logical response is to correct that, not make sure everyone else is left out as well. It’s Christmas, so it makes perfect sense they have Christmas decorations up, it isn't establishing a religion no one is being forced at sword point into the chapel for Christmas Eve services, it's celebrating a national holiday put into place because the majority of the country celebrates it, but if someone felt left out over that, then the normal, sane response is to say ‘hey, would anyone mind if I put up some X decorations?’ Then, if by some wild stretch of the imagination, you are denied, then you are actually being excluded and could logically seek a way to be included that doesn’t exclude other’s rights. I’ve yet to find a celebrator of Christmas who objected to someone else also celebrating another holiday in the winter. After all there are several other holidays around the same time here in December. As I sit writing this tomorrow is Winter Solstice, a holy day for a couple of different religions. Chanukah is over already, but it was celebrated (in part) in early December. There’s Kwanzaa, it’s only been around about fifty years, but then so have Bat Mitzvahs, and it starts on December 26th this year (does it vary like Chanukah? I’m not sure). I’ve known people who celebrated ‘Christmakah’ or perhaps it was ‘Chanukamas’ I don’t remember. Even if you celebrate Christmas but do so only secularly, there is Santa and reindeer and snowmen. Regardless, there are at least a half dozen different options, and no one sane really cares what you choose to celebrate or decorate for. But a lot of people care very much if you try to keep them from celebrating or decorating. I don’t care if you celebrate secular Xmas, a traditional Christmas, a religious-only Christ’s Mass, or a Wiccan’s Winter Solstice. That’s the point of Freedom of Religion. See, it’s an ‘of’, not a ‘from’. You don’t have the right to never encounter another’s religion. If you feel so unconfident about your own religious convictions that you can’t stand seeing someone else’s then that’s *your* issue to deal with, not other people’s. Religion simply means ‘belief’, it can be a very formalized belief with detailed rituals dating back hundreds or thousands of years, like the Russian Orthodox Church, or it can be a very loosely defined collective like Pagans or Giaists It can be poly-deistic like Hinduism or mono-deistic like Islam. It can be hold to no supernatural forces like Humanism or to a world filled with the supernatural like Shamanism. It can follow demigods like Vodun or an omnipotent God like Judaism. It can reject all gods like Atheism or follow an all-consuming God like Christianity. It’s all still ‘religion’, and in America we have a right to practice it. We don’t have a right to force others to not practice or to never see other’s practice. It is impossible for Freedom OF Religion to coexist at the same time as Freedom FROM Religion, they are fully exclusionary. And, 9,999 times out of 10,000 when people say ‘freedom from religion’ what they mean is ‘only the Atheistic religion is worthy of freedom’. There are a lot more religions than Atheism, and *all* of them are granted freedom under our Constitution, not just Atheism. Don’t like it? Amend the Constitution to exclude Religious Freedom and enshrine Freedom from Religion (or be honest for once and admit what you actually want is a state-enforced and sponsored religion of Atheism). We have a whole Constitutional Amendment process just for such issues. Of course, that would be sane, and those seeking to suppress other’s rights have already fled sanity for insanity.


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