(It also has the merit of having been produced by someone qualified to make it!)
It amazes me how many people think that since I've made YouTube videos about the religion I was brought up in, which is dominant in my culture going back millenia, and which I threw myself into whole-heartedly as a teenager, and struggled with, and eventually came to face as having been a lie that I'd lived like a fucking dupe, that that means that I am OBLIGED now, given the size of my subscriber base, to make videos about a religion about which I know absolutely fuck all and have never ever had any experience of whatsoever. Islam.
People seem to fail to realise that the strength of my videos about Christianity comes from the fact that I know things about Christianity. A lot. I know a LOT about Christianity. I can pull bible quotes and references out of what would appear to some to be thin air, but which is actually decades of exposure to the religion and its text and theology and apologetics. Perhaps the tiny references and citation gags that I insert into my scripts have gone over the head of many of the people who have enjoyed my videos. Trust me, they're in there. It isn't only my brilliant MS-Paint artwork that has made them so discomfiting for many Christians.
More and more, over the last few years, as Islam has become prominent in the western mind, I've been getting comment after comment from people who think that I ought to just flick that switch that I apparently have in my mind, download a lifetime's intimate experience of the religion of Islam, and make NonStampCollector videos about that religion, instead; complete, presumably, with the same sort of awareness and familiarity that has given my videos about Christianity their strength.
Seriously, in many people's minds, I have a moral obligation to make videos about Islam, and they think that if I have any gaps in my knowledge of Islam, then I have a moral obligation to fill those gaps with research, in my own abundant spare time; the kind of spare time that has allowed me to make, on average, one video per year for the last 4 years, on a topic with which I am already abundantly familiar.
Some commenters can get pretty indignant in their demands that I devote the time between work and my family responsibilities to becoming as familiar with Islam as I am with Christianity (which would likely only take several decades, after all), so as to be able to make the videos that I am apparently obliged to make. They DEMAND that I receive the same kind of inspiration, regarding Islam, that have always been the spark of new NSC script ideas. They seem to be demanding that I be walking down the street, pondering some interesting little chestnut of Islamic scripture or lore (as though I'm as likely to be doing that as they themselves are), and come up with an analogous satirical parallel involving various characters from the Qaran which will draw on an enormous number of references to all corners of the faith, allow for all sorts of finicky language jokes, and put the Islamic faithful in a self-reflective corner that might disturb their mental status-quo and commence some sort of re-evaluation of the sorts of apologetics that they've always clung to in mental defense of their faith.
To such commenters, the absence of Islam-related videos on my channel is deemed to be absolute proof that I am indeed an APOLOGIST for Islam. "You've made videos about Christianity, but not about Islam? Ah ha! Undeniable proof that you secretly support Islam!" I have been told on numerous occasions by numerous people that I am not entitled to use the term "antitheist" to describe my views on religion, because of this glaring lack of Youtube material. I'll often be called a coward, or more recently, a "regressive", for not having developed the means by which I might be able to make my style of videos about a religion about which I know zero details. (That, after all, shows such a fantastic and thorough understanding of what Harris and Nawaz mean by the term "regressive left". not.)
Close to two years ago, such a comment came in, and I'd like to post a version of my response to it, as it has not received an adequate response from the OP, and sums up my usual response. In fact, I may have given you the link to this blog post because I want you to read this as my response to a comment of your own. (Having said that, though, my response is pretty abrasive, and if you haven't been rude to me then please don't take the rudeness of my response hereunder to apply to you. I mean - look at how the guy opened.)
My response went thus:
You said: "Do something similar about muslims instead you fucking coward."
It was a compelling argument that you made, eloquently stated, and I find myself convinced. I'm going to do it!
However, I'm going to need a great deal of help, because I know next to nothing about the Islamic faith. I'm absolutely incapable of coming up with a snappy 12-minute script filled with references to all corners of their scriptures without your help - in fact beyond the Qaran and the Hadith (whatever that is), neither of which I've ever read, I really don't know enough to even have an idea for a basis of a well-researched script.
So, I suggest that we do a co-write. You're convinced that I need to MAKE these videos, and you also seem convinced that the necessary preparation will be a piece of cake that requires fuck all in terms of effort and time, so I'll assume you're happy to volunteer to be my research assistant. Working together should be a fun adventure! I'm glad to have you on board.
Please get the ball rolling by providing me with a detailed crash course in Islamic beliefs, customs, texts, history, politics, apologetics, and culture that's sufficient for me to be able to start finding little problems out of which to start making up jokes, but short and compelling enough for me to read between all of the other things that I have to do with my time- (keeping in mind that in recent years, between work and family responsibilities, I've only ever had time to make one or two videos per year. Your report had better be good and concise.)
Once you've done that, we can start choosing characters. I don't know any Qaranic characters beyond the prophet and his 9-year-old bride. Do you know any others? How many? Do you know anything about their characteristics and history? Family connections? Roles? Anecdotes that can be ridiculed? Again, since you think it will be so easy for ME to do the necessary research, you won't have any problem volunteering to do it your fucking self.
After that we'll need a scenario into which to couch the action we depict in the script. Should we go contemporaneous, or humorously yank the scenario out of its history and into a completely different context? Give a reason for your decision on this.
We'll need some contradictions and mistakes from the text, in fact I'll need PLENTY to choose from just like I have when it comes to Christianity, so you'd better get to work on that, too. And given that a lot of the "contradictions" that people do see in the Bible simpy aren't contradictions at all, in my opinion, you'll need to give a for-and-against argument on each one that you include so I can be confident that it won't be swatted down by the first muslim listener who hears it.
Oh, and by the way. Think of the pains I've gone to in the past to to make sure there aren't any significant errors of theology or apologetics in my videos. If you go making any mistakes in the research you go doing for this, we're absolutely fucked; you realise that, right? If people who know the religion more than either of us start picking holes in our script or our understanding of the history and traditions we're dealing with, it will all have been for zip fucking squat. You get that, right? This video we're working on needs to be convincing and persuasive to people who have been in the religion for their whole life. An absolute precursor to even having them take any notice of our video is for them to be convinced that we know their religion as well as they do. Otherwise: it is for NOTHING. Your research needs to be 100 percent bullet-proof.
But again, that shouldn't be a problem, right?- you seem to think that I could handle it all on my own, in my spare time, so it ought to be a cinch for you.
If you agree to this, then email me your initial proposal, you fucking coward, and let's get to work.
You stupid, arrogant, ignorant fuck.
DarkMatter grasps this perfectly. Beautifully analogised, written, and produced.
Hello. I've given you the link to this because you expressed some confusion over why I would speak out against a belief in God, but not against a belief in unicorns, fairies, or leprechauns, or the tooth fairy.
I didn't make this, but it explains the thing well enough.
Get your mind around this.
In order to have me continue the conversation with you, you'll need to start your reply with a convincing argument that belief in your god is not a factor in making laws and telling people how they are allowed or not allowed to live their lives.
I’ve created this post so that people who are convinced that I am a huge supporter of Anita Sarkesian, and want to inform me about how they feel about that, can be informed of the actual facts of the matter, if they’re interested in those.
Ever since that time that guy asked that woman in an elevator to have coffee with him, it seems that internet atheists are required to be involved in debates on feminism. I've been in internet-trouble over this before. Give the wrong impression of your views on feminism, and you'll land in all sorts of shit. Feminism, apparently, matters terribly deeply if you're going to make satirical cartoon videos about faith and belief in deities. (Don't ask me, I didn't make up the rules.)
On one side, you have to be 100% anti-feminist. On the other, you have to show the scars you've obtained in your personal fight against the patriarchy. Stumble somewhere between those extremes and say the wrong thing, and everyone gets their knives out.
Now, the "Shibboleth" has moved from being whether or not saying "Guys; don't do that" is OK, to Anita Sarkesian. Having the wrong opinion about her can be really troublesome.
I'm am fucked if I know how it came to this.
Anyway: I'm guilty, my friends, of not despising Anita Sarkesian. I don't despise her, it's absolutely true.
Basically, the number of fucks I give about Anita Sarkesian’s views and work is very small. It is a very small number.
I give very, very few fucks about feminism, beyond a basic 21st century hope that men and women can be considered equal. I give even fewer fucks about computer games. Actually, I basically give zero fucks about computer games. I don’t play computer games. I also don’t play volleyball.
Do you play volleyball? Probably not.
You know what it’s like to not play volleyball, and to be not interested in volleyball? Yeah, that’s how much interest and investment I have in video games. I don’t hate video games, just like you or I probably don’t hate volleyball. I just have no interest. Think, therefore, about how much interest I would have in any one particular person’s VIEWS on volleyball. OR VIDEO GAMES. Fuck all. Same with ship-building. Or knitting. Or green tea.
Please contemplate these examples to try to come to an understanding of my absolute disinterest in Anita Sarkesian's views on video games.
I'm aware that there is a person called Anita Sarkesian and that she has views on female depictions in video games, because the internet caught fire over it, and I had a look, just like a rubber-necker glancing at a road accident as he passes along. When the internet seemed to lose its mind over Anita Sarkesian, as though she was especially important, I watched two of her Tropes vs Women videos to see what the fuss was all about. Two videos, and I never commented on either of them, nor posted them, nor thumbed them up, nor (as far as I can remember) even discussed them anywhere.
It is inexplicable to me that I have been tarred with a reputation for giving any significant number of fucks, therefore, about Anita Sarkesian’s views on computer games.
Seriously - I’m as interested as Anita Sarkesian’s views on computer games as you probably would be in Daniel Radcliffe’s views on tapestry.
Do you give a single fuck? Probably not. Good; so you know how it feels.
Now imagine that you were, month after month, copping hate on the internet for your love of and support of Daniel Radcliffe’s views on tapestry. Imagine how tiresome it becomes being called, consistently, a cunt, a fuck, a pussy, a weakling, and a cunt again and a fuck a few more times for being "so supportive" of Daniel Radcliffe’s views on tapestry, because you said you didn't really mind him in a discussion about the grounds upon which he might or might not be deserving of criticism.
Welcome to my world. I get hate all the time for apparently being supportive of Anita Fucking Sarkesian’s views on fucking computer games, despite not giving a flying fuck about them. I can manage, but it does get tedious.
Here’s how it all came about:
In October 2015 I was part of a discussion on the Skeptic Fence Show that turned, at one point, to the topic of Anita Sarkesian. I thought (rightly or wrongly, you can be the judge) that the arguments being made against her were off-topic, and irrelevant to her actual arguments and circumstances. To my surprise, it sounded to me like my colleagues were saying that since she hadn’t been the victim of the same kinds of horrendous abuse as Ayan Hirsi Ali, and wasn’t really directing her efforts towards as broad a segment of womankind as Hirsi Ali, then she couldn’t really call herself a “true” feminist, and that that was a significant mark against her. Since Hirsi Ali has (and still does) suffer greater hardships in her struggle for a much larger and infinitely further-reaching and worthwhile end than Sarkesian could ever hope to, then THAT is what makes Sarkesian’s work, and her grievances over receiving the rather unfriendly response she's had, so problematic.
Here are the words that I responded to. You may think they're fine and accurate and perfectly reasonable. You might think that I didn't get the nuance of what was being said. That's fine. Let's just look at them so I can explain what I heard, and explain my response to what I heard.
"...I drew a comparison between Anita Sarkesian, a FAKE feminist,
and Ayan Hirsi Ali, a TRUE feminist;
here's a woman who is standing up for the rights of women for some REALLY serious issues that they face,
on the one hand you've got someone who is doing a content analysis of female depictions in videos, and then on he other hand you've got someone who's gotta walk around for ten years with a massive security detail lest she's going to be beheaded.
So it puts I'm perspective who's being bullied."
With no love for Sarkesian, for whom, as I said, I give very few fucks, I did see what I'd call a category error. Whatever problems there might be in Sarkesian’s work, however wrong she might be about the purpose and treatment of female characters in particular video games, or however many people she's annoyed, or whether or not she's obtained funds dishonestly; the fact that she wasn't acting at the same level of significance as Ayan Hirsi Ali did not (and does not) seem to me to be a sensible reason to completely write off her grievance of having consistently received obscene threats of violence and murder. Nor is it good reason to consider her unqualified to talk about what she wants to talk about. There may be plenty of reasons to consider her unqualified to talk about video games, that's fine. The fact that she isn't doing work of the same consequence as Ayan Hirsi Ali is NOT one of them. The kinds of reasons that she might be unqualified to talk about video games would have to do only with what she actually said about video games. Everyone else would know better than me about that, for obvious reasons, so I unreservedly leave such judgments to those with a better understanding of video games than I have.
The comment seemed to me to be saying that since others, advocating for womankind on a much larger and more significant scale, are receiving even more obscene threats and hatred, then the threats and hatred that Sarkesian is copping are completely insignificant, and becoming upset by the online abuse she's received is really a bit whiney and she ought to get over it.
I thought it was a little uncharitable to be implying something along the lines that "Ayan Hirsi Ali is doing more for women than Anita Sarkesian, and is in far more danger than her, therefore Anita Sarkesian should just cop the vile and disproportionate personal abuse that she's getting for her Youtube videos.", or "Someone who receives disgusting threats of physical abuse and murder for her Youtube videos shouldn't mind, because other women, who are doing MORE for women, have it so much worse." That didn't sound like a valid argument to me.
Does it sound like a valid argument to you? If it does, then OK: that's where we disagree. NOT on anything to do with her video content, or her modus operandi, or her motivations.
Do you see that I could say the same thing about someone I actually truly despised? If I really despised someone and wanted the case against them to be strong and well-grounded, I'd suggest that this kind of objection, which I saw as kinda off-target, was not a good one to be making. If I really wanted Anita Sarkesian to be slammed, I'd want it to be for solid reasons to do with her content (if I had any expertise on it), not because of what I still see as an unfair comparison with someone doing quite different, and undoubtedly more important, work.
Look; if there are nuances that I wasn't hearing at the time, then that's fine too; I responded to what I heard or thought I'd heard. Was that NOT what was being implied? Well, that's for everyone to judge. It's in the video; see what you think.
With respect for Gad Saad, who hadn't said anything I'd disagreed with up to that point, I spoke up, if for nothing else than to get criticism of Anita Sarkesian back onto what I think would be a more defensible track. I wouldn't have cared less if her arguments themselves were being pulled apart and criticised, any more than I'd feel any distress at hearing Tina Turner's outspoken views on hip-hop being pulled apart. I know as much about video games as I do about tapestry or volleyball: fuck all. But I didn't feel good about seeing the discussion continue along the lines I was hearing without trying to nudge it back onto a more reasonable footing. That's what someone might DO in a discussion that they were enjoying with people whom they respect.
At the bottom of this post, I’ll unashamedly give you the complete transcript of what I said, for which I’m tiresomely being called a cunt, a fuck, a fucking cunt, a Sarkesian-supporting fuck, and a feminist-loving pussy fucktard. I’ll include the 30-minute video of the segment, too, so you can see the whole conversation. Let me prep you first, though, to help you understand the meaning of the words that came out of my mouth. Many people have had significant difficulty in understanding the meaning of the words that came out of my mouth, resulting in their thinking I have anything more than ambivalence towards Sarkesian and therefore feeling the need to tell me that they think I'm a cunt and a fuck and all that.
Firstly, here’s what I DIDN’T go on to say about Anita Sarkesian.
I didn’t say: “Hey, hold on, guys; she is an excellent person whom I strongly admire.”
I also didn’t say: “I really support her and her work. I’m a real fan. She is really smart and I’m so glad she’s out there saying what she’s saying.”
I DID, however, say this: “I don’t really mind her.”
"I don't really mind her."
Please contrast this with what I might have said if I was a supporter, an admirer, or a fan of Sarkesian. "I don't really mind her."? WTFF? “I don’t really mind her” is pretty feint praise, if you want to stretch as far as counting it as “praise” of any kind.
“I don’t really mind Sam Harris”, for example, is not the way I’d describe my enormous admiration of Sam Harris, or Ayan Hirsi Ali. Or Bill Gates. Or Leonardo di Caprio. Or pianist Chick Corea, or former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani. "Don't mind"? WTF? I really, really LIKE those people! (Even the republican, whose book I'm currently reading!) (***Oct 2016 retraction: Giuliani's book is very good, but the man is a complete and utter fuckwit. His defense of Trump was absolutely indefensible. Total fuckwit: let's be clear about that! Thanks.)
In fact, I tweeted exactly that to one of the people who’s been giving me grief for my “support” of Sarkesian, and he seemed surprised at how I could use such lame-ass language with regards to Sam Harris. It happened to also be the way I’d expressed my view of Sarkesian, but in that circumstance he’d interpreted it to be an expression of support and love and admiration.
I was pleased to see that in fact he agreed that "don't mind" is pretty half-assed at best.
“I don’t really mind tits”, also, is not the way I’d describe my considerable appreciation of tits. Tits I love. Anita Sarkesian I don’t mind.
The lead-up to me entering the discussion was bringing into question the value of Anita Sarkesian's endeavor, namely; discussing female depictions in video games, and comparing its worth to the obviously more important, valuable, dangerous, and worthwhile work of Ayan Hirsi Ali.
The distinction, in terms of significance, between the clash of Islam and the West, and video games, is not lost on me. I'm not fucking blind. I'd explain the contrast like this:
One matters, whereas the other matters pretty much fuck all.
There's absolutely no doubt that Hirsi Ali is a more significant person in the world than Sarkesian. Remember?- I don't really give a fuck about video games, nor any one particular person's views on video game content any more than I care about any one person's views on green tea, or tapestry. I do care about the clash of Islamist ideology with civilisation. Not video game ladies.
Thus: on Sarkesian’s video content (having seen two of her videos at the time),
I didn’t say: “Hey, hold up guys, the depiction of females in video games is one of the most pressing social issues we are currently facing. Anita Sarkesian's arguments in her videos are excellent, well-informed, robust, and should be listened to carefully by everyone.”
I also didn’t say: “The facts she lays out are irrefutable, water-tight, and rock-solid. Video game producers need to pay attention to what she’s saying.”
I DID, however, say this: “I think her video series is valid, I think it’s alright,…”
Firstly: “I think it’s alright.” Please contrast this with what I might have said if I thought truly highly of her content and considered myself a supporter, admirer, or a fan.
Let me repeat: “I think it’s alright.”.
Go to a Star Trek convention and tell the nearest geek that you reckon that “Yeah, Star Trek is alright”.
When describing my view of Sam Harris’ book “The End of Faith”, which changed my life and made me want to join the cause against religion, I don’t recall ever explaining my reaction by saying that “The End of Faith” was “alright”.
"Valid" - because I don't believe Youtube, or public discourse in general, ought to be restricted to only the absolutely desperately important discussions of world-wide consequence. Yes, even in a world that is facing impossibly difficult questions of how to go about not annihilating the planet, there IS scope to talk about things like art, music, culture. David Bowie's music and death, for example, ought not be ignored because there are bigger problems out there. It is "valid" to discuss David Bowie's music on the occasion of his death (I'm writing this only shortly after Facebook went back to being something other than a world-wide monument to him) even though there are more important and urgent things to give our attention to.
Within discussions that are "valid", people can and do say stupid things. It could very well be that within her videos, Anita Sarkesian says stupid and inaccurate things. Others would know about that better than me, because I haven't watched with much interest, giving as few fucks as I do about video games. That doesn't mean that it isn't "valid" to simply talk about the topics she raises. That's called existing in a culture and discussing what's going on within it. That's valid. That's a valid discussion to have.
Even though Ayan Hirsi Ali does things of far greater consequence, and is in receipt of far, far worse abuse and threats, the discussion of issues surrounding demeaning depictions of segments of society within popular culture is, at least, a "valid" endeavor. No, it isn't the most important thing that we could possibly talk about, and yes, there is a finite amount of time that we can devote to important discussions, but at the very least, discussing culture is valid. It's our culture, after all, that we want to save from the encroachment of fucked up Islamic and Qaranic values, isn't it? Think about that.
On my experience of having watched two of her videos,
I didn’t say: “I really learn so much great information by watching her excellent videos. I love going through her back catalogue and hearing as much of what she has to say as I can.”
I also didn’t say: “Her stuff is absolutely fascinating, and I find myself really changing my mind on some big issues because of what I learn from her.”
I DID, however, say this: “I don’t get very excited by it but I can see it and think ‘that’s interesting’.”
Let’s just think about what “I don’t get very excited by it” means, and also have a look at “interesting”, (and “fairly interesting”, which I also used to describe her videos);
A few weeks ago, I was flicking around Youtube looking for animal videos to show my two-year-old son. After a few user-produced videos of sheep-dogging and milking cows, I came across some documentaries about farming practices in Africa. My boy liked seeing the goats and sheep and cows, and I found that I was fairly interested in the economics, and some low-tech/low-cost workarounds they employed to run the farms, cultural stuff they were discussing, that kind of thing. It was fairly interesting,... but I didn’t get very excited about it.
It had nice footage of goats and cows. Not particularly exciting, but, you know, fairly interesting.
Sarkesian’s videos, that I saw, had nice footage of video games. One even had lots of footage of lady-characters tits bouncing all over the place! Fairly interesting- (in fact, she managed to maintain my interest just as thoroughly as a documentary about African farming practices did a few months later. Well done, Anita!) but I didn’t get very excited.
The person to whom I directed my irony-laced pathetically half-assed description of "not minding" Sam Harris also seemed surprised at my description of his work as "fairly interesting". He had, as I said, interpreted those words as admiration when I was using them to describe Anita Sarkesian's work.
It should be noted that nobody will likely call you a pussy, a fucktard, a cunt, or a piece of shit for finding an agriculture documentary ‘fairly interesting’. Say it about a Sarkesian video, though; that's a different story.
As I've alluded, the main guest on the Skeptic Fence Show that week was the excellent Dr. Gad Saad. He was cool. What a mind. One of the reasons I spoke up is that I was confident that he would understand the nuance I was attempting to make. I thought that he'd pick up what I was getting at. I guessed right: he didn't call me a cunt, or a fuck, or a pussy, or an Anita Sarkesian supporter at all! Not even once. He didn't even swear at me. In fact, once he’d heard me out, here’s what he had to say:
“Point taken and I understand that.
Yeah of course, it [her video series] is good, and it's nice, and I think she did her masters thesis on it, so I have no problem with it.
It's just that maybe she's a bit self aggrandising, the way she positions her importance. Maybe.”
(The issue of her being self-aggrandising was to do with the fact that she'd just spoken about her experience on social media at the United Nations.)
"Good"? "Nice"?! It was obvious at the time that Dr. Saad was being very accommodating, cutting a lot of slack in order to be a nice guy and keep things friendly. He was taking pains to not be confrontational with me, whom he didn’t know from a bar of soap.
He is a class act; he was, as I was, enjoying the discussion that we'd been in for some time already. He understood that a dialogue could occur between people with differing views, and even though I disagreed with only the angle of his initial criticism of Sarkesian, and I'd like to think that had an inkling that I wasn't necessarily positioning myself as a supporter of Sarkesian by pointing out the problems I saw with the comparison with Ayan Hirsi Ali.
I'm certain that he conceded more, in that quote above, than he actually meant, and I wouldn’t hold up the words he chose to imply that he actually considered Sarkesian’s video series ‘good’ or ‘nice’. He was being a ‘good’ and ‘nice’ discussion participant. Credit to him. He went on to really, forcefully slam her and her work. As you'll see in the video, I didn't object. I knew he was going to; it was obvious in the way he hit the discussion of her running. If you read my words and consider what they actually mean, you'll see that I wasn't attempting to get in his way. Why would I? Daniel Radcliffe and tapestry, remember? Volleyball. African farming practices.
Dr. Saad's animated, well-grounded and devastating dismissal of Sarkesian culminated in him declaring her “the Reza Aslan of content analysis”, which I thought was funny, and beautifully delivered. He ‘dropped the mic’ after that, and gained a lot of subscribers in the process! Including me!
Dr. Saad is a class act. We had a brief, good-natured exchange on Twitter following the show. In disagreeing with where I thought he was going with his introductory volley, I didn't necessarily disagree with the further thrust of his argument.
To my knowledge, and justifiably, nobody is calling Dr. Saad a cunt, a fucktard, a pussy, or an “admirer” or lover of Sarkesian for having said that Sarkesian’s video series is “good”, or “nice”.
Read again: I know that that is NOT how he thinks about her videos.
Read the transcript of what *I* said, below, and I think it’s arguable that based strictly on the words used, Dr. Saad’s description of Sarkesian’s videos is more generous than my own!
Again, though, I take pains to indicate that I do NOT think that Dr. Saad truly finds Sarkesian's work to be "good" or "nice". That is absolutely no part of my argument.
(I know I'm going to cop criticism for misinterpreting him there. One can't cure the blindness of those who simply refuse to see.)
Anyway, here’s exactly what I said. Read this, keeping in mind what I’ve explained above. (Alternatively, ignore everything I've said above, and mis-read this to be saying that I'm an avid supporter and lover of Sarkesian. Your call.)
“That's two different things to me.
It's a slight case of apples and oranges there.
I mean; Anita Sarkesian, I don't really mind her. I think her video series is valid, I think it's alright, I don't see any problem, I can watch those whole videos, they go quite long, and I go yeah that's a fairly interesting argument,... I don't really do video games but I can see where she's coming from having studied undergraduate Cultural Studies and that kind of thing ... I don't get very excited by it but I can see it and think "that's interesting",
I think the kickback that she gets is disproportionate, death threats and all that sort of thing,
Comparing her to someone like Ayan Hirsi Ali, That's a different sphere altogether. I don't see the comparing one to the other…
The whole death threat thing [surrounding Ayan Hirsi Ali], and the female genital mutilation [that Ayan Hirsi Ali suffered];
That's not what Anita Sarkesian set out to do, and you can't really criticise her for not having done that, because that was never her agenda.
It was video games.
Quite light in comparison, but... anyway,...”
As you can surely see, I spoke up about the grounds upon which she ought to be criticised. Now if you think that that makes me a supporter, admirer, or lover of Anita Fucking Sarkesian, then ok; such is your approach to evaluating evidence.
Good luck with that.
As I mentioned, Dr. Saad called Anita Sarkesian "the Reza Aslan of content analysis". Great line.
You know what's so fucking annoying about Reza Aslan, and others like him? It's that they consistently, repeatedly, and endlessly misrepresent Sam Harris' views. His views on profiling, on nuclear first strikes, and on torture. It's infuriating. Harris spells them out again and again, but his explanations of his own views are ignored, and Aslan's lies designed to defame Harris and spread hatred for him just go out reaching more and more people. There's fuck all Sam Harris can do except repeatedly explain his views over and over. It must be unbelievably infuriating.
Wouldn't the world be a better place if Aslan would LISTEN to Harris just once, and hear what Harris has to say FOR HIMSELF about his views on those things, take the correction, and stop telling lies? Wouldn't it be nice if he'd actually LISTEN to what Sam Harris is saying about Sam Harris' views on things, rather than dictating TO Sam Harris what Sam Harris thinks? What a fucking concept!
I tell you what - my world would be a slightly better place if, instead of behaving like Reza Aslan, the people who want to consistently and aggressively misrepresent my views on Anita Fucking Sarkesian in order to stir up internet-hatred for me and antagonise me, would take notice of my actual views and stop misrepresenting them. Is that really too much to ask?
If you must think of me as a cunt, think of me as a cunt for accurate reasons, such as that I am ambivalent towards that woman. Guilty as charged: I don't hate her. I'm ambivalent. I find her videos just as compelling about documentaries about African farming practices. If you insist on spreading the lie that I'm a radical feminist fan of Sarkesian, then you're simply doing a Reza on me. Please don't.
The video is of the conversation is below. Most of what I had to say occurs within the first five minutes. (Another segment I started later, about discourse, I just rambled and bumbled. Look up "discourse in cultural studies" if you want a better understanding and better examples than I was able to give on the fly.)
Thanks for reading this very long piece.
I wish I hadn't needed to spend the time writing it.
Images used in this post:
volleyball, by Flickr user MartinCharelle (CC2.0)
tapestry: https://pixabay.com/en/tapestry-versailles-pattern-floral-755294/ (CC0)star trek: https://pixabay.com/en/graffiti-spock-leonard-nimoy-1015952/ (CC0)
cow: https://pixabay.com/en/cow-animal-farm-animals-agriculture-961790/ (CC0)
My response to being told that my attitude towards Christianity indicates that I have a "closed mind".
You've accused me of having a "closed mind", because you've noticed that I have a well-considered position on Christianity. You seem to imply that you do NOT have a closed mind, as evidenced by the fact that you considered Christianity's claims openly, and accepted them. I put it to you that if either of us has a closed mind, it is in fact you.
If you believed, or went in with an "open mind", to every text, ancient and modern, that made miracle claims, your head would not remain screwed on to your body.
Please don't lecture me about prejudging ancient, self-contradictory miracle accounts, when I'm 99% certain that you haven't done a thorough investigation into either Sattya Sai Baba's miracles, those of Mohammad, nor new age claims of having accomplished telepathy, remote healing/psychic surgery, or past life regressions.
It quite clearly ISN'T a case of approaching the bible with a closed mind. Having latched onto Christianity, your mind is almost certainly more closed than mine to an enormous spectrum of miracle and supernatural claims. As soon as anyone from another religion or 'philosophy' makes a miracle claim, you're inclined to instantly discount it without as much as a cursory investigation, because of what your faith tells you about who is and isn't capable of performing miracles. By definition, I can be more open-minded to the claims of competing world views than you. You're committed, I'm not.
I was open minded enough to consider, whilst being a bible-thumping Christian, that I was heading in the wrong direction, and slowly, year after year, coming to the realisation that I could be wrong about the whole thing. It hurt, terribly, to lose my faith. I did everything I could to keep the doubts at bay, and I felt such anguish when I saw my fellow believers enjoying and expressing their faith, because I was increasingly unable to. And ever since I did finally lose my faith, and began telling people why, I've been being told by Christians that I'm closed minded because I won't consider their nonsense claims without skepticism.
I'm very pleased to get this new video out. It was going to take a few more weeks yet, but in appreciation for the support I've gained on Patreon, I decided to put a few other things off for a few days and get this out as soon as I could.
In an upside-down world, with upside-down understandings of morality and of the value of love,... their interpretation of the bible and the debate about its relevance sure sounds familiar, in an upside-down-ish kind of way.
Listening to a radio discussion from a few years back featuring Richard Dawkins on the morality of the old testament (to which I'll find a link in the next few days, give me a chance!) and what that meant for the value of the bible generally as a source of morality, I was struck by how the bible is so fundamentally muddled within itself, and indeed such a useless source of guidance on matters of morality, that it would be about as much use in a crazy world that valued hatred over love, violence over compassion, and death over life. Insert the bible into a world where the goal is to cause the maximum misery and suffering to one another, and it fits right in: and the debate sounds almost exactly the same; just... upside down.
As evidenced by how seldom I've updated this blog this year, I'm a busy guy. In recent years, what with a young son, and a job that consumes a lot of my creativity, I've only been able to put out about one video on Youtube per year. I've got the ideas for more, but devoting the amount of my free time that producing more would require isn't easy.
After a great deal of umming and ahhing, I've decided to accept the financial support of my viewers on PATREON. Patreon allows you to become my patron, by pledging a buck or several per video that I'm able to come out with. It's not a monthly contribution or anything like that; if you pledge a buck on Patreon, then as soon as I release a new video and notify the Patreon website, you're charged your pledge and I gratefully accept it. No output from me, no money moves. I think it's a fabulously fair way to support the content producers whose creativity you feel is worthy of your support.
Hopefully, that's me! I'm hoping that doing this will provide me with the justification and opportunity to put out as many as three or four videos per year, which would be nowhere near as many as I was able to in the early days (of unemployment!), but a big boost to what I've been able to manage since about 2012.
Watch the video below, or just CLICK HERE to go to my Patreon page.
I've also included a link in my newly-renamed "Support" tab at the top of this page.
Thanks very much! I'm already promising, there'll be a new video out before the end of this year.
(In a comment on my "Context!!!" video.)
I can't ever imagine worshipping a god that's so human as to become angry. I admire humans who DON'T become angry. There are humans who don't. Some people get enlightened, somewhat, for want of a better word. They see the peace in every situation, and take responsibility for their response to everything. They don't lash out violently. They have a patience that lasts so much longer than average people's. They understand each person's responsibility in becoming angry, and have learned how to overcome those aspects of themselves and can remain calm and be a calming effect on those around them in even the worst situations.
There are such people out there in the world. Yet you're content to excuse a so-called "god" that shares characteristics with the most dangerous, petty, and unenlightened humans, and think of this god as being the supreme being of the universe? One that can't handle his emotions, and lashes out violently, causing suffering and death as retribution for emotional hurts? Compared to some humans, that's simply kindergarten playground-level shit.
I am aware of my faults and how far I have to go to start looking like some of those enlightened people that I've written of here, but I know this for sure: I, sir, am a better moral being than the disgusting, childish, unenlightened bloodthirsty character that you apparently seem comfortable worshipping.
Yet again, I recently found myself engaged with a guy who wanted to offer up some narrative glue to reconcile the four contradictory gospels into a single coherent narrative, and thus 'prove' that it contained no contradictions.
Whilst reading his attempt, it occurred to me what an embarrassing pursuit he was on. Suddenly, the socially-normatized (if that's a word) thing of defending one's religion became utterly, utterly laughable when one considers the ludicrousness of the assumptions the story takes for granted.
One could argue I went slightly off topic in my response, but I had to make the point to this guy that perhaps even HE wasn't aware of the idiocy underlying his assumption that the gospels OUGHT to be defended.
Enjoy my response:
Your fourth paragraph is a masterpiece of nonsensical jibberish, and I will treasure it as a fine example of the garbage that believers have to fill their heads with in order to reconcile the gobbledigook of the bible within themselves.
Before I reproduce it hereunder, let's just ponder that we're dealing with a story, that claims to be history, that involves flying angels. Yes. A historical event, just as historical as September 11, or the Battle of Britain, or the sinking of the Titanic - it's just that this historical event, centering around the coming-back-to-life of a dead middle-eastern iron-age miracle-man, features angels: supernatural flying beings from the realm of heaven.
This "historical event" is recorded in four different and differing accounts, written decades apart by anonymous authors who never knew each other and likely lived hundreds of miles away from each others' home towns, in a language other than the reported events are supposed to have occurred in, each using different source material, each recording different details that any objective reading will attest do in fact contradict each other.
The apologist's responses to having these contradictions pointed out,>>> once again, I reiterate, contradictions amongst four versions of a fantasy story about a water-walking dead miracle-man coming back to life and thus bestowing eternal life unto anyone who wants it after THEY're dead (yes, you must believe that with a straight face), reads as follows:... (Prepare yourself to read an adult, obviously very capable, educated person, defend and attempt to reconcile the mismatches in an ancient tale about angels from heaven descending to earth to attend to the coming-back-to-life of a recently-dead miracle man:).... Here goes, and I quote verbatim:
"Matthew's account of the angel rolling away the stone probably occurred while the women were en route to the tomb, so that only the guards saw the angel sitting on the stone. John's account of Mary Magdalene and the angels is a separate event; Mary had likely gone back to get Peter and John before the other women encountered the angels. Clearly there were two angels, as described in Luke and John. The second angel may or may not have appeared to the guards, but did appear to the women entering the tomb. It's likely that only one angel spoke, hence Mark only mentions one angel. While Mark and Luke refer to men instead of angels, the men are wearing white "in clothes that gleamed like lightning" and their appearance causes the women to be greatly distressed, which is consistent with Matthew and John's descriptions of the angels (as well as other descriptions in the Bible of people encountering angels)."
Wonderful. Thank you for sharing the incredible lengths you'll go to to avoid the inevitable and reasoned response to contradictions in these jumbled and confused records of this fantasy non-event that one meets if one simply applies a bit of adult common sense to it all.
A believer wrote to me, on my Quiz Show: Bible Contradictions video, the following:
“…The questions is, regardless of our thoughts and opinions, do the synoptic gospels, when read collectively, reveal an actual and technical violation of the law of non contradiction, when communicating the resurrection account.”
My response to this person, and anyone who similarly tries to eliminate the points the video makes by taking the semantic approach of defining and/or redefining what ‘contradict’ really really means, follows.
That’s what the question is? No.
That’s not the question at all.
The question is, whether a being capable of CREATING physics, designing the laws that led to the formation of galaxy super-clusters, and who fine-tuned the mathematical constants of the universe with such inconceivable precision, would leave, as its written message to its favorite species, this garbled book of contradictory, slip-shod, wierd, altered, mistake-ridden texts and tell us that if we didn't believe the message they could possibly (by some) be interpreted to convey, then we would suffer eternally after death.
THAT, sir, is "the question". And the answer is "You've got to be fucking kidding me.”
Read new testament history. Learn about the process by which these texts came to be put together, how random, how prone to errors, how late, how infused with the competing ideologies of the day they are.
Think of the breathtaking amount of faith you have in the veracity of people you've never heard of - such as the third and forth guys to copy Paul's letter to the Thessalonians, or the fifth and sixth guys who copied the second letter to the Corinthians. Or the first to translate James’ letter into Latin. Or Greek, its original language, for that matter. Do you think James spoke Greek? Had you even thought of that? Do you think that the first translation into Greek, or Latin, was a good translation? How would we know? Seriously, how would we know that it was a good translation or a lazy one, or an inaccurate one, or even a complete one?!
You don’t know anything about the people whose translation and copying skills you trust to be absolutely flawless. You simply operate on a certainty that they were incapable of making errors.
You're trying to sell to me the idea that this book is the perfect non-contradictory record of the concerns of the being that came up with pi, nuclear physics, and quantum theory IN ITS IMAGINATION. Those things are literally mind-bogglingly accurate, measurable, confirmable. That, if anything, is the fingerprint or signature of a god. Not this jumbled, mistranslated, garbled thrown-together bunch of decades-old records of hear-say tales.
It’s perfectly accurate, just like the laws governing physics? Well, I know for a fact that there are puns attributed to Jesus that wouldn't have worked in the language he spoke, and that he therefore certainly didn't say. They were added later by anonymous editors. I know that there are stories that don't appear in any ANY copy of the gospels for the first 300 years and then gets suddenly inserted. I know that there are competing translations of a few of Paul's passages in which scholars can't know for certain whether he really said x or y, because textual traditions of both can only be traced back so far until all the earlier manuscripts are lost. I know that there are things inserted into the texts later because they interrupt literary forms egregiously.
So, keep trying to tell me that these texts are perfectly non-contradictory, and keep trying to tell me that the only reason I see the texts as anything other than perfectly divine is that I'm coming to them with personal biases. Keep telling yourself that, more like it, because that's all you're really here to do anyway. Keep telling yourself - "He's got biases! That's the only possible reason why anyone would question the perfection of these texts!!”
You’ve only got facts to contend with.
After many, many months of work, most of which time was spent with me being too busy in real life to do anything at all, and making 43alley wait for me, we finally finished our remake of the Ode to Yahweh.
This is very much 43alley's video: in the final days of making this 'together' I realised just how much more he'd done than me, and that he truly deserved the credit as 'producer'. I'll always be grateful to 43 for his work on this and apologetic for me having been such a shit collaboration partner!
If you're not familiar with 43alley's work, do check out his channel and see why he's one of my favorites ever since the 'good old days' of youtube atheism, around 2009 when everything exploded and great new videos seemed to be coming out every day.
The script of this video is up in the Scripts menu.
Typical comment on my video in which I ask theists to establish why precisely ONE god created the universe
Or so I was told in a comment recently. What follows is a version of my reply to the person informing me of this fact.
Seriously, why? How is that? Do we really know that nothing else is capable of creating a universe? Has anyone ever offered proof that even hints at that? Certainly not to the standards of any other type of claim to knowledge. If someone had have, then you can bet we'd know their name. They'd be known as the most insightful person, and the greatest scientist, to have ever lived.
And there’s that singular “god” again. The universe would have to come from just one God? Why? Why can't the universe have been created by two gods, or fourteen gods? Why not? Is there any evidence that only one god made the universe (keeping in mind that Occam’s Razor is not considered “proof”)?
How do you know that a god that created a universe would be all-powerful? Just because it made a universe doesn't mean that there are things that it can't do. Certainly, you haven't demonstrated as much anyway, only asserted it. In fact I can't even imagine how that would even BE demonstrated. If you can't either, and I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that you can't, then why are you just asserting it? By doing so you seem to be suggesting that I ought to just accept the assertion uncritically.
Same goes for the "all-knowing" bit. Why? Why couldn't there be things that a universe-creating god didn't know? I’m serious. Why?
Have you even entertained the thought that a universe could be created by a god who wasn't sure how he'd done it?
I create Keynote presentations almost every day without knowing shit about my computer's CPU or the language of the operating system. Is there any proof anywhere that the being that created the universe, if it was a being, (if it was a single being), was not in fact creating something using a "programming language” and hardware, so-to-speak, that someone else had engineered?
No? Then why assume it if it can’t be proven to even the slightest extent?
One might actually look at the universe and conclude, given the incredible inefficiency and redundancy that's apparent all over the place, that it was a bit of a botched job, perhaps carried out by an underling, or a bit of a hack. There doesn't seem to be any way to know from our perspective, though.
But why assume anything even remotely along the lines of what you're just claiming out of thin air here?
Eternal? Why? Why couldn't the universe have been created by a being who could create it, and then die? No, seriously. Why not? Seriously.
You seem to think that this is an impossibility. Why? Because whatever is outside this universe is outside of time itself?
Is it? Got any proof of that? Is there any reason to believe that? Is there any evidence supporting that claim?
If not, why just assume it? Why ask ME to just assume it? I don’t just accept wild fantasy claims.
Perhaps this universe's creator died. Maybe that's why prayer is such a pathetically hit-and-miss affair, and ‘God’ does fuck all except what charlatans like to claim he can do through them, such as make the odd leg a bit longer, and heal diseases that can, in the absence of prayer, heal themselves too (and do).
The fact that you just assume all of this incredible knowledge about the only available candidate for the creative force behind the universe really suggests that you haven't questioned any of it. You've just been spoon-fed it, and now you’re regurgitating it onto the internet. You’re the uncritical vehicle by which a stupid, ill-conceived idea gets to spread on to other uncritical vehicles that will spread it further.
Can’t you honestly, within yourself, admit that just like me, you haven't actually got a fucking clue about how the universe came into being?
Take that step, my friend. Step into the light of not lying to yourself about what you can and can't know about matters that are most likely going to baffle scientists for a hell of a lot longer yet.
Image: pixabay user WikiImages http://pixabay.com/en/ngc-2264-dark-nebula-cone-nebula-11176/
Oh, the Islam videos? Yeah, I can tell you that. They are being formulated, daily, in the back of someone else's mind, not mine.
Someone with a long background in Islam. Someone who grew up in an Islamic family, who went to Islamic Sunday school every week, sang the Islamic songs at the mosque and at home and at school, and then went on to embrace Islam himself as a teenager. A guy who accepted the truth of Islam with tears running down his face as he devoted his life to Islam, who joined an Islamic church on his own initiative, and was just so hungry for knowledge that he couldn't read enough Islamic literature. Someone who prayed to Allah daily, who tried to find opportunities to teach the Islamic faith to his friends, (and succeeded in doing so on a few occasions, bringing others to Islam). Someone who participated actively in Islamic mosque life, even taking part in running services.
The thing is, though, and the reason behind why he’s out there making his anti-Islam videos, is that he then went through a long, turbulent period of years of coming to terms with the fact that Islam seemed to have a lot of holes. Yep, this is a guy who struggled mightily with the fact that his belief in the tenets of Islam was waning, despite the lifetime commitment he had made to his faith and to Allah and the prophet. Who would go home from the mosque more and more depressed each week, envious of those who had joy in their faith where he himself had only doubts and a growing skepticism that he SO wished would be taken away from him. Someone who after years and years and years of struggling to admit it to himself, finally came to the point of simply not believing it any more, and stepping into the darkness of admitting it to himself. Yep, he fully expected that his life would never ever again have any meaning without Islam,… but then was astonished to find that nothing actually happened when he admitted it,… and so then he had to deal with the fact that he'd been wrong about Islam all those years.
Those videos about Islam? Yeah, they’re being written by someone who left Islam and thought very little about it for over a decade, until he was convinced by a boom in secular literature speaking out against faith, that not only was Islam incorrect in its claims, but that Islam and other faiths were actually harmful to humanity. Someone who was shown for the first time the depths of the delusion he'd been under as a believer, and who suddenly found himself bursting at the seams with satirical ideas that represented and demonstrated the inconsistencies at the heart of his former religion, Islam. It was as though all these ideas had been growing in the back of his mind over the course of his life, and now, suddenly, were bursting out to be given voice.
It was amazing how those videos and scripts started to be written; in that guy’s mind, scripts seemed to begin to write themselves, most often faster than he could type them up. He would finish writing a script about Islam in the morning, and have a new idea occupying his mind that same afternoon. Those video ideas just seemed to find their own way to him, as someone who knows Islam intimately and in detail, who knows the stories of Islam, who knows the characters of the Islamic texts, who knows the doctrines of Islam, who knows the contradictions of Islam, who knows the promises and claims of Islam, who knows the culture of Islam, who understands the schisms of Islam, and who can barely contain all he has to say about it, because it’s still all around him in his culture, and BECAUSE HE LIVED IT.
That's where the Islam cartoons are. In that guy's mind. Not mine. Why the fuck would they be in MY mind? They’re all in that guy's mind and on that guy's channel.
Oh - you won't find any videos about Christianity on his channel, despite the fact that he has people telling him week after week after week that he should be making them, too. When people dig at that guy to make Christianity videos, he's probably amazed that people think he could just suddenly flick a switch and start getting exactly the same kinds of ideas for Christianity videos as his Islam ones, as though he could suddenly draw on a lifetime of background in a religion and culture he has no experience of, and come up with something on par with the videos that spring up in his mind about the religion that gave his life meaning for so many years. I mean- he doesn’t even know how the Christian scriptures are organised, he doesn’t know any of the characters apart from Jesus and Noah and Moses and Abraham, doesn’t know what the central doctrines are, doesn’t know what the specific inconsistencies are, and doesn’t really care to, see. He’s concerned with getting the clearest and strongest message across to the people he’s best able to reach, the people in his own culture and community, so why the fuck would he even attempt to make a video depicting something he’s got no workable knowledge of? The people telling him that he’s got an obligation to make videos about Christianity must be frigging nuts, and not understand the first thing about what it is to be intimately familiar with one thing and know nothing about something else. Especially when the people who are insisting that he should write about Christianity don’t know the first fucking thing about it themselves, either!
So. Thanks for asking. Your answer is: those videos you demand are in that other guy’s mind, and on HIS channel. That's where the Islam videos are, and that's where you can find them, OK? Good. The end.
Oh - and they’re on your channel, too.
All those satirical anti-Islam videos you’ve made.
Because as you know, people who don’t make anti-Islam cartoon videos are cowards.
Occasionally I'll get messages from people who tell me that they have an idea for a video, or even an entire script, that they would like to offer me to make into something. My response is usually to say that they ought to go ahead and make it themselves, even if they think they lack the resources, because my early videos were total shite and eventually, through a process of learning as one goes, things can eventually improve.
I just got an email from RationalPlus, who, as it turned out, took my advice, created a video, and created a channel.
It's quite similar in style to my first one, Conversation With Yahweh, but altogether better in quality, funnier, and way better written. Just fantastic. I really lolled a few times, and subscribed right away.
Please, watch it here, then go and comment on the video page itself so RationalPlus will be inspired to make more!
Click here if you'd like to read some absolute apologetic bollocks that attempts to explain this problem away; firstly by questioning human ability to judge God's thinking process, and then by judging God's thinking process and questioning the judgements of anyone who would come to a different judgement of God's thinking process than the one that they themselves had come to.
Youtube antitheistic video maker. See "info" section above for more of who I am.
I proudly and enthusiastically advertise this, and only this, on my website.
I've been a BackBlaze customer for six or seven years, and sincerely recommend that you become one, too. BackBlaze constantly backs up all of your computer data remotely on-line, so your files and photos are safe even if your hard drive crashes, or your computer is stolen, or your house burns down with your backup hard drive inside!
I'm glad that I could find something to advertise on my site that I truly, enthusiastically feel evangelistic about!