I received a bit of a drubbing on Pharyngula yesterday, due to my post about Mohammad Fares, an Islamist warrior in Syria who accidentally had his head cut off the other week by an allied band of terrorist rebels. The noggin-choppin’ fundies thought they had caught a pro-government fighter.
Indiscriminate cruelty and slaughter has long been a way of life for these types. I guess I’m supposed to be sad when it becomes a way of death for them too, but for once I’ll nod along in agreement with Jesus, who is said to have stated the inevitability of violence begetting violence pretty succinctly: “He who lives by the sword shall die by the sword.”
Mohammed Fares was another Islamist boil on the ass of humanity. It’s an unpleasant procedure, but boils need to be lanced. Or beheaded — same thing.
PZ Myers is displeased:
So now we’re supposed to celebrate brutal murder and bloody mutilation, as long as the right guy was murdered and mutilated. …
No. The dead man might have been the most evil creature on the planet, a terrible, awful person who would have spread more terror if he’d lived, but let’s not dehumanize people by calling them diseases and asking for more death and using the Bible to justify violence.
I’m an atheist, but not, I suppose, a Humanist — at least not if Humanism is about “stressing the potential value and goodness of all human beings,” as the definition has it. Temperamentally, I’m closer to Christopher Hitchens and Bill Maher than I am to Myers or even our very own Hemant Mehta.
Admittedly, all babies start out on the same moral playing field. But if, 30 years later, one of them has turned into a serial killer named Mohammed Fares, and another has joined Doctors Without Borders, I don’t think that I’m morally obligated to show them both the same level of respect and consideration. Nor will I mourn them the same way if they die.
The people who think I went too far in my post about the decapitation … I wonder what their thoughts were the day Mohammad Atta died. Were they as shocked and saddened by his death, and the deaths of his 18 brethren, as they were by the deaths of the 2,977 innocent victims? If not, they can perhaps take that to its logical conclusion; that might help answer where I’m coming from.
(Side note: Am I really, in PZ’s words, “using the Bible to justify violence”? I thought that with the line “Live by the sword, die by the sword,” Jesus didn’t mean “Go kill each other indiscriminately”; rather, it’s a reminder that violence has a karmic way of eventually destroying the perpetrator.)
As for the predictable but no less tiresome charge of Islamophobia, expressed in the Pharyngula comments — well, I do have a phobia of sorts. Turns out I am terribly allergic to faux-pious swine who do unspeakable things in the name of their chosen religion. If the perps happen to be Muslims, and their victims are other Muslims, as is so often the case, sadness and revulsion are typically the emotions that rush my consciousness. I have zero desire to see peaceful Muslims come to harm. But if, for a change, the victims are themselves the kind of death fetishists who habitually cut off the heads of ideological opponents, or who pump them full of lead while shouting that God is great, my tear ducts remain oddly unproductive.
In my post, I didn’t “celebrate” the death of a terrorist; I shrugged that I’m not losing sleep over it. One of my main transgressions seems to have been that I was observed to enjoy a tinge of public Schadenfreude. There’s also the impression that I’m not very “friendly” toward violent adherents of the One True Faith™ (whichever faith that happens to be). On both counts, I’m guilty as charged.
If all of that is insufficiently empathetic, my apologies. I’ll try harder next time to give a damn when a guy who served his God by years of maiming and murdering goes on to his great reward in the sky.
***UPDATE*** A kind reader sent me a link to a noteworthy post on Pharyngula. I guess this is how PZ Myers expresses his revulsion of celebrating a murder. He does love to occasionally fantasize about committing a bunch of them, though.
I think this is my favorite newspaper headline yet: Priest attached to party balloons vanishes in Brazil. Now you know what to bring to the next party at your local church: a lawn chair, a bunch of balloons, and a helium tank. I am imagining a day when every priest in the world stands smiling beneath a great happy bobbing collection of many-colored balloons, and they all joyously loft themselves up, up into the sky, joyfully drifting away before the winds until they are just a tiny speck and then … gone. It will be a miracle.
This will be my new dream. It will bring a smile to my face as I fall asleep.
And as long as I’m dreaming, I’ll imagine myself with an ultralight aircraft and a BB gun, buzzing above a great Sargasso of wind-gathered balloons.
It should probably be noted that the victim, Rev. Adelir Antonio de Carli, undertook the stunt to raise money for charity. He was also known for his human-rights work among the poor. Might it be safe to assume that Father De Carli didn’t spend his years on Earth butchering people — unlike Mohammad Fares?
What exactly did De Carli do to bring out PZ’s glee over his disappearance and death?
Also, I wonder whether PZ’s desire to kill clergy by picking them off with a BB gun is the best expression of the humanist values that he so rousingly espouses.