Saturday, January 17, 2009

Prelutsky Projects onto Atheists and Homosexuals

Projection is the act of attributing one's own faults onto one's opponent or perceived enemies. Think about all the homophobic homos (Haggert, Foley, etc.), or those who, being incapable of reasoned, unbiased analysis, instead attack straw men while accusing everyone else of having those same flaws. Exhibit A of that last category is this pathetic piece from the king of MSU, Bert Prelutsky. It is a real work of rhetoric art, with practically every statement absurdly false. A major fisking is in order:

"Recently, I noticed a similarity between atheists and homosexuals that hadn't occurred to me before. It has to do with the way they wage their wars. Basically, they erect straw men, put words in their straw mouths, and then engage in battle with these creatures they've cobbled together with spit and glue."

Right Burt, because homosexuals and atheists don't know anything about life in their shoes that you believing heteros do. Seriously, it is comical in the extreme that Burt can preface his stream of ignorant straw with such a projecting preamble. Want straw men? Burt provides:

"It just seems to me that it's high time we began setting the record straight. To begin with, there is no such thing as homophobia. A phobia is defined as a fear or anxiety that exceeds normal proportions. Concocting the word was simply a rather sly way of suggesting that it is heterosexuals who are deviant."

Wow, concocter, they name is Prelutsky. Let's start with the basics: a phobia is defined as "a persistent, irrational fear of a specific object, activity, or situation that leads to a compelling desire to avoid it.". It is irrationality, not lack of normalcy, that defines a phobia, and there is plenty of irrationality when it comes to homosexuals: simply peruse all the arguments against gay marriage. There's nary a shred of rationality in any of them.

Particularly irrational is Prelutsky's claim that those who recognize homophobia when they see it are suggesting heterosexuality is deviant. Most of the people who do so are themselves heterosexuals, I being one example. Further, the claim is a complete non sequitor, there being no logical connection between irrational fear of gays and the supposed deviancy of heterosexuals. Where is Prelutsky's evidence of any of these assertions? Absent, as always.

"The other lie that is parroted with some frequency is that those who don't fully support the gay agenda are most likely latent homosexuals, which is supposed to suggest, I assume, that lurking inside every heterosexual man is an interior decorator"

There are several lies here, all Burt's as usual. There is no "gay agenda". That would be like labelling the civil rights movement the "negro agenda". There is only an agenda to allow everyone, homosexual and heterosexual alike, to choose their mates, and otherwise have the same rights with regard to those mates and the contracts they enter into.

Now what has been observed is that many of those who argue most stridently against homosexuality turn out to be homosexual themselves: Mark Foley, Ted Haggert, Larry Craig, the list goes on. It's not every heterosexual man, but rather the ones that make it their life's passion to slander homosexuals, that should come under the microscope. Such subtlety and sophistication of thought is too much for Prelutsky, who prefers to wallow in sophomoric scatological humor that would do Beevus and Butthead proud:

"The proof that heterosexual men aren't all sitting around fantasizing about being seduced by Boy George or Richard Chamberlain is that every heterosexual man I know prefers having his cavity worked on by a dentist than by a proctologist."

And Burt wonders why those of us in the reality-based community don't take him too seriously, except as a propagandist. Witness the Gish Gallop of untruths:

"Homosexuals ... are as free as they've always been to marry members of the opposite sex. For several millennia, everyone has understood marriage to mean the sacred union of a man and a woman."

Brilliant Burt! And prior to Loving vs Virginia, every person was free to marry anyone of their own race! What pedantic nonsense. The question is whether anyone should be free to marry anyone they choose, or rather, why should marriage be restricted to two people with different naughty bits? The answer certainly is not "that's what we've always done", since that would suggest never changing anything, and more importantly and obviously, Burt's statement is false. He should read his Bible more, where polygamy was common, as it has been for most of human history. Monogamy is the newcomer on the scene. Polygamy is still widely practiced in many places in the world that people who wax ignorant on the subject like Burt does have obviously never visited. Get out more Burt.

"I have asked on more than one occasion if the institution of marriage is to be turned on its head to accommodate the ludicrous demands of a very small number of people, on what moral or legal basis does society then deny fathers and daughters, mothers and sons, or, say, your cousin Phyllis and a dozen Elvis impersonators, from tying the knot. If the parties merely need to be consenting adults, on what basis could you prevent Hugh Hefner and his bevy of blonde companions from pledging their troth before man and God? I have yet to receive a response. "

That's because it is a typical red herring, akin to asking "how did life begin?" when arguing about evolution. There is no more need to concern yourself with those other options than there was before. Whatever reasons we had won't go away just because we decided to stop preventing people with matching naughty bits to marry. The genetic and social problems with incest and polygamy aren't effected in the slightest by allowing gays to marry. Now if people like Burt want to claim they are, then they need to make their argument, rather than dodging the issues with this little Coulterish non sequitor.

Speaking of non sequitors, Prelutsky's rants on atheists are even more full of them:

"This brings us to atheists and their own brand of hypocrisy and lies. It's silly enough when they feel they can use logic to disprove the existence of God. But it's worse when in voicing their angry opposition to organized religion, they begin sounding exactly like the religious zealots they claim to despise."

Ah yes, what would an rightwing apologetic rant be without the baseless claim that their opposition is angry. We can't admit our opposition might just have a reasoned disagreement with us, no sirree bob. They are angry and unreasonable, so we don't have to deal with the substance of their arguments.

The comedy level of the claim that atheists are the equivalent of religious zealots is another baseless claim. When atheists start gathering together to worship Darwin, claim those who disagree with us can't be good citizens and will burn in eternal hellfire, equate giving others a voice in the public square with squelching ours, shoot doctors who don't agree with us on abortion, and require that public officials agree with us on the issue of the existence of gods, THEN you can start comparing us to religious zealots.

But then what does Prelutsky know about atheists anyway? He obviously isn't listening to what we say if his comments above are any indication. Atheists do not believe they can use logic to disprove the gods. What we do believe, and are happy to demonstrate, is that we can use science and logic to refute the claims made for the existence of gods, thereby remaining at the rational default position of "no gods". He who asserts must prove, and if proving the existence of gods is too tough a task for Prelutsky, then I suggest he shut up about it until he can. Private faiths should be kept that way. In public, we need evidence.

Finally, atheists do not oppose organized religion. Organize to your heart's content! Believe whatever fool thing you like. Chant away in your churches or synagogues. But if you try to bring that fool nonsense into the public square, you are going to get treated the same way as everyone else. Where's your evidence for that claim? Don't have any? Then sorry, you can't demand that everyone behave as if they agree with you. Our opposition is to the demand that religious views be exempted from the rules of the marketplace of ideas.

Still, it's when they begin blaming all the evils of the world on religion that my own sense of reason and logic kick in. Inevitably, they bring up the Spanish Inquisition, as if the new year we just rang in was 1478. Ask them to make a slightly more contemporary case and they'll bring up Nazi Germany with a "gotcha" gleam in their eye. While it's true that Germany had been a traditionally Christian nation, Hitler was neither German nor Christian. He and his followers were pagans. They didn't march and murder under the cross of Jesus Christ, but under the swastika of Adolf Hitler.

Yes, they marched under a swastika with belt buckles that said "God with us" to the tune of Mein Kamf, in which Hitler speaks often and frankly of his godly mission. 95% of Germany during both World Wars was Lutheran or other Christian denomination. By promoting the notion that Germany suddenly became Pagan under Hitler, Prelutsky reveals that logic and reason are not his concern.

And Jesus Jumping Christ, does Burt really expect us to believe the atheists he supposedly talks to have trouble coming up with contemporary examples of the evils of religion? 9/11 anyone? You remember that right, where religious extremists caused world turmoil and killed thousands of people for the sake of 72 virgins from Allah? Jim Jones ring a bell? How about all that religious brotherly love in Iraq or Israel? Burt strains credulity to the limit expecting us to believe these conversations with atheists occurred anywhere but in his rather dull imagination.

Whenever atheists blame religion for causing most of the world's mass murders, they merely prove that they're not only bigots, but ignoramuses. While nobody knows exactly how many millions of innocent people have been butchered in the past 90 years, we do know that the vast majority died at the hands of Stalin, Hitler, Mao and Pol Pot, atheists all.

Burt shouldn't be spouting about others' ignorance while so prominently displaying his own. We've already noted that Hitler was not an atheist. Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot might have been atheists personally, but it does not at all follow that atheism was therefore responsible for their acts, any more than the fact that they were all men was. Correlation does not imply causality. When one studies their political methods, it becomes clear that all three men set up pseudoreligious authoritarian regimes, demanding absolute obedience and disallowing dissent.

None of this is inherent in atheism. As is constantly pointed out, a lack of belief is nothing to build on. One might was well claim that the Tyrannical Three's lack of belief in mermaids is what did the trick. It was and is tyrannical authoritarianism which we atheists are concerned about. We object to them regardless of whether they are based on religion. Tyranny is tyranny.

Finally, notice the sure sign of a crank here: mutually contradictory theories. Prelutsky labels Hitler an atheist (no gods) and a pagan (many gods) within a few sentences of each other. As long as he's not recognized as the Christian he was, right Burt?

The only exceptions to that rule, of course, are those who have been gassed, beheaded and blown up, by the Muslim faithful. And yet Islam, interestingly enough, is the one religion that doesn't seem to enrage atheists! Could the reason possibly be that, for all their huffing and puffing about how awful all religions are, even the atheists understand that Jewish and Christian martyrs will die for their beliefs, whereas Islamics will kill you for theirs?

This is MSU salad Burt. Atheists object greatly to Muslims all the time. We were critical of them when 9/11 occurred, we were critical of them when they threatened the Dutch cartoonists, and we continue to be critical of them. This "No atheists against Muslims" meme has become dogma to the paranoid right. To illustrate how much so, consider the great cracker incident wherein PZ Myers threatened to desecrate a Eucharist from a Catholic mass. Typical were comments like this:

"If you REALLY want to do a courageous, revolutionary act, defecate publicly on a copy of the Quran. Or do you have the cojones? Christians won't attack you for desecrating a host, but will those wonderful cuddly peace-loving Muslims be as forbearing if you used their book for a toilet? Well, how brave are you?"

Well PZ went ahead and did it, as we all knew he would. There in the trash was the Eucharist, on top of ripped pages from the Quran, and for good fairness measure, the God Delusion. Game over right? Wrong! Even after the event Myers continued to get notes from people making the same tired refuted argument. Like Prelutsky, they aren't interested in what atheists really do, only what those fauz atheists in their heads supposedly do. That's the bottom line with Prelutsky: no interest in reality, only in making shit up about people whose mere existence threatens his infantile worldview.


Harriet said...

"For several millennia, everyone has understood marriage to mean the sacred union of a man and a woman"

Whoever says things like this obviously doesn't read the Bible.

In the Bible, it was one man and, well, lots of women, concubines, etc.; not exactly what we'd call "one man, one woman". :-)

ScienceAvenger said...

Yes, isn't it amazing that they keep making that argument, given:

1) How patently false it is, and
2) Given that the proof is in a book with which their target audience is supposedly highly familiar.

It insults the Christian Right in two directions at once.

ScienceAvenger said...

Paul said (among other things):

"SA, your generalization that 'Finally, atheists do not oppose organized religion' needs to be appended with 'per se' to make it clear that mere organization of religion is not itself objectionable...If that's what you think..."

Paul, what I meant was clear enough for anyone who read the full context of what I wrote, instead of plucking out that one line in isolation and pretending otherwise. Allow me to direct you to the "About me" section of my blog:

"Disparaging, irrational, intentionally obtuse, troll-like whack-a-mole posts will be dispatched without hesitation or apology."

Posts like the one you submitted is a textbook example of what I had in mind when I wrote that. I write what I think in my articles. There is no reason to wonder what I think, other than to misrepresent me, which is exactly what you did. I do admit it was highly amusing to have someone make shit up about an article where I critcized someone for making shit up, but not enough to give it a forum.

So, disagree with what I wrote if you are so inclined, and perhaps we can have an interesting discussion. Write a bunch of made up shit which certainly is not at all what I believe (thanks for the laugh on the nihilism line), and it'll get flushed with the rest of the fiction.