Open Season

Human rights conventions extend the same protection to religious beliefs as to skin colour, ethnic origins, sexual orientation, disability and so forth. The Organization of the Islamic Conference, however, has attempted – so far unsuccessfully – to induce the UN explicitly to equate criticism of religion with racism. This is a category error; beliefs have no business in the company of things a person cannot help. Nor only are such conventions erroneously equating religious beliefs with something that a person is, has or suffers from in a way wholly outside his control, they are also demanding that we respect them on the same grounds, in the same way and to the same extent. Now, either religious beliefs are freely chosen or they are not; if they are freely chosen, a statutory right to respect and protection is a hugely dangerous precedent, as we then have nothing to say to the convinced religious sociopath. If, on the other hand, they are not freely chosen, but something that happens to a person’s mind, then they should be classified with the mental disorders, which are by no means protected by the conventions to prevent discrimination and persecution. It is therefore time to return to the robust defiance of the Enlightenment and of Victorian atheism, and hold people responsible for the nonsense they claim to believe in.

Posted on March 24, 2009 at 22:36 by Hugo Grinebiter · Permalink
In: THE LONGEST CON, Prologue

3 Responses

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  1. Written by Cranky Ashley
    on March 25, 2009 at 02:10
    Permalink

    “Human rights conventions extend the same protection to religious beliefs as to skin colour, ethnic origins, sexual orientation, disability and so forth. This is a category error; beliefs have no business in the company of things a person cannot help.”

    I never thought of it that way before. It’s a good way to put it. I may quote you on it someday. Then you can sue me for copyright infringement.

  2. Written by dwasifar
    on March 25, 2009 at 07:33
    Permalink

    I’d be the last person to want to defend religion or its shaky claim to be included in this category, but surely someone will argue that religious beliefs are not “freely chosen” without necessarily being “mental disorders.”

    The faithful would argue that religious beliefs (their own) are not “freely chosen” any more than one “freely chooses” to believe the sun rises in the East. They see their beliefs as acknowledging fact, not choosing an arbitrary side.

    Nonbelievers might argue that many people did not “freely choose” their beliefs, but rather had those beliefs brainwashed into them, usually at an early age, and lack the ability to escape them. The faithful might also make this argument when discussing other faiths’ beliefs.

    Personally, I regard religious belief as delusional – perhaps not quite in the clinical sense (although I have met some people who clearly do qualify in that sense too) but in the sense of having been profoundly misled. I think it’s more Patty Hearst than padded room.

    That said, I approve of your concluding sentence. People may come to religion, and stay in it, through no fault of their own, but that is no reason to pander to their continued delusion, any more than you would want to indulge someone who denies a train is coming while standing on the vibrating rail. Let religion account for itself.

  3. Written by Grinebiter
    on March 25, 2009 at 12:49
    Permalink

    Hi Ashley, nice to see you here 🙂

    This site is of course brand new, still under construction, and I want to get an icon for the same Creative Commons Licence as Dwasifar has. So quote away!

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