Friday, September 24, 2010

Clash of Perverts?

A recent post of mine entitled Universalist Truth has generated some interesting discussion so I thought I would reintroduce it here. Sean Cranley maintains that when religious folks do some crazy things, like fly airplanes into buildings, they are perverting their religion. Maybe so in some cases, but certainly there are religious (or philosophical) differences between people such that it isn't so easy slap on the "perversion" label and walk away. For example, Christian denominations disagree on the issue of homosexuality. Which ones are perverting their religion and who decides? Sean responded as follows:

"We all make those judgments and we arrive at a general consesus on the big issues. It's called civilization. Clearly threatening or inflicting phyical harm crosses the line of reasonable people in all cultures."

Oh really? This ranks right up there with Sean's "schools can't fail" theory. Note the moral relativism in arriving at a general consensus. But clearly inflicting physical harm crosses of reasonable people in all cultures, says Sean. What about war Sean? Can civilizations clash? Was England being unreasonable in declaring war on Germany?

Lets move beyond war. For thousands of years slavery was, by consensus of non slaves, an institution that was commonplace across many civilizations. Was that consensus OK Sean, or are we correct today in our revulsion of slavery? Lest you think we are in an uninterrupted march toward greater civilization, consider that at one time Muslim women were able to work, reveal their faces, drive cars, keep their clitori and what not, yet, in some Muslim civilizations, by consensus of those with power, well, those rights don't exist.

Write them off as perversions Sean, pretend it is just a handful of crazies, bury your head in the sand. As for me, I will recognize it for what it is. It is a clash of civilizations. Some things are right, others wrong, irrespective of consensus. But I suppose that makes me one of the perverts, eh Sean?


Preachrboy said...

I just found this interesting video, posted by a friend on Facebook:

Seems to pertain to the debate.

Preachrboy said...

One other recent FB gem. A friend made the same point I was making in the other post, but more pithily (a word?):

When a Christian commits an atrocity, he does so in spite of Christianity. When a Muslim commits an atrocity, he does so because of Islam.

Anonymous said...

Denis - you're a smart guy and your response to the JT letter was classic. However, using your writing and debating skills against an emotional pseudo-intellectual like Sean Cranley is a waste of your time and that of your readers. If Seany is the only one showing up here with a different "opinion" for you to debate, I suggest pulling some content off the newswires from competent people you disagree with and posting your responses here. THAT would be educational for everyone and (I hope) more satisfying for you.

Denis Navratil said...

I had to watch that video twice because I thought it might have been a joke. Thanks Preachrboy.

Anon, thank you for the compliment and your point to ponder. One thing I have noticed repeatedly over the years is the extent to which local issues, problems, ideas etc.... mirror what is happening at the national or even international level. Sean's point of view is a perfect example. He is an articulate advocate of boneheaded ideas that are not limited to this area. As strange as it may seem to you or I, many people might actually agree with some of Sean's thinking/parroting. Certainly our school children are immersed in like minded thinking. It may well be that I can't teach or amuse you with my exchanges with Sean, as I suspect you see through his nonsense without me having to point it out. But I will keep trying.

Anonymous said...

Understood - but why is it that the stupidest people get to drive every debate? Why is it that stupid people crashing their cars and motorcycles led to Racine putting up a fence so you can't see the giraffes from Main Street anymore? Taking a gene out of a fast-growing salmon and putting it into a more “desirable” salmon is playing God and will kill the Earth, yet if you made a new species of salmon somehow from an embryonic human stem cell you would have to be a “hater” to prevent the work? Whatever -

Nemo said...

I like that quote Preachrboy. I plan on stealing it sometime but will strive to remember to credit it to "Friend of Preachrboy". And that "interesting video", funny at first and then chilling.

Anon, I kind of like sean's comments. They are a sort of forensic pinata. If you strike them hard enough with a logic stick, it cracks open and pejoratives fly out. Every once in a while he can even surprise with a nugget of truth in a blind squirrel/broken clock type of way. Plus his spelling is getting better.

I'm not sure why the stupidest people seem to drive every debate. At first I thought that it might just be a combination of loud and largely ignorant (L&L) plus better user interfaces. A GUI makes it easy for chimps to fling poo. More darkly, it could be the L&L crowd is being used by a cabal of royalist wannabes that ends with more power/money for them and less freedom for us.

Anonymous said...

Nemo - I don't understand a thing you say but I'll fight to the death for your right to confuse me -

Sean Cranley said...

Funny, this subject started with Denis' inexplicable objection to the Universalist's statement of support for the right of American Muslim's to the free exercise of their religion in these United States and as affirmed in the U.S. Constitution.

We were talking about American Muslim's who have come here like other immigrants seeking freedom and democracy and who have lived among us in peace.

Now Denis wants a clash of civilizations, painting all 1.2 billion Muslim's as evil terrorists.

That is exactly the reaction that Osama Bin Laden wanted to result from his attack on the U.S. To casue a clash with the West and America, in particular. So he could overthrow the U.S. supported house of Saud and re-establish the caliphate that was eliminated with the fall of the Ottoman Turks during WWI and grab political power for himself. You didn't really buy the whole "They attacked for our freedoms" nonsense did you?

Simple-minded Extremist bigots like you play right into their hands. There so much more that's just wrong with your statement and those of your followers here. But then one must begin somewhere and bite off such distastefulness in small chunks.

Denis Navratil said...

So Bin Laden et al want a clash with the west? But if we pretend they don't, the clash won't occur?

Denis Navratil said...

"Now Denis wants a clash of civilizations, painting all 1.2 billion Muslim's as evil terrorists."

Never said that Straw Manley.

Sean Cranley said...

Way to talk out of both sides of your face Denis.

Denis; "As for me, I will recognize it for what it is. It is a clash of civilizations."

Sean; "Now Denis wants a clash of civilizations, painting all 1.2 billion Muslim's as evil terrorists."

Denis; "Never said that Straw Manley."

Denis, "So Bin Laden et al want a clash with the west? But if we pretend they don't, the clash won't occur?"

If we isolate and marginalize the crazies on either side we can make sure it doesn't turn into the clash of civilizations you've "recognized." If we paint all muslim's the bad broad brush of the bigot, as you and your followers were certainly trying to do in the UU post and comments then we make it that much more likely.

Denis, if the entire muslim "civilization" (if that term even applies to the diverse muslim world) are not evil terrorists why do you want to clash with them?

If Bin Laden et al represent the entire muslim civilization, then how can they not all be evil terrorists?

You can't have it both ways.

Denis Navratil said...

Sean, methinks there is a point somewhere between "a few crazies" and "everyone is a terrorist."

Do I want a clash of civilizations? No but contrary to your supposition, it isn't up to me. With aggression it only takes one to tango.

Learn something about Islam Sean. I suggest reading Islam 101 over at I have a link to the site on the right of my blog. Thanks for that Preachrboy.

Sean Cranley said...

No Denis, YOU learn something about Islam, something real and not from some whacko wingnut blog.

I suggest a real book by awell known knowledgeable and thoughtful author. Islam - A Short History by former Catholic Nun Karen Armstrong would probably enlighten you. It's a quick read and very interesting.

I can tell by a number of you statements and those of your followers that you really only know about Islam what the fear mongster want you to know. I'll get abck to that later, time permitting.

By vilifying and entire religion, your prejudice is playing into the hands of the extremists among them. And it's making you an extremist on the other side and runs the risk of becoming a self-fulfilling prophesy.

Denis Navratil said...

I wondered just how you would artfully dismiss Islam 101 without having read it. Really Sean, if there is anything in there that is untrue, please point it out to me. I would like to know. Of course, that would require knowing what's in it. It is much easier I realize to draw from your vast repertoire of ad hominem attacks. Critical thinking just isn't your thing. Of course this response is consistent with your "head in the sand" approach to Islam's darker side.

Sean Cranley said...

All religion has a darker side. I'm actually pretty good at critical thinking, which is why I'm consistently able to keep you and your followers back on your heels.

I'm the one who has actually read an entire scholarly book on the subject of Islam rather than a blog. I'm interested in finding out the truth about Islam. You're interested in sources that will bolster your predelection for fear and hatred of the other. Goebels would have ahd a field day with you and your pals.

Really? ROBERT SPENCER is the director of Jihad Watch, a program of the David Horowitz Freedom Center, and the author of ten books, including The Post-American Presidency: The Obama Administration's War On America. Seriously? This guy is a whackjob and he works for an even bigger whackjob, Horowitz. Oh you'll get a
sober assessment of Islam from these jokers.

My God, no wonder you believe the junk you do. Be afraid Denis, be very afraid!

Denis Navratil said...

Going once again to the ad hominem playbook I see. I await your critique of Islam 101 with all your brilliant critical thinking skills on display for all to see. Or just call me a radical GOPster propagandist blah blah blah and walk away, per usual.

Nemo said...

sean, "I'm the one who has actually read an entire scholarly book on the subject of Islam"

Which book would that be? Surely you don't mean Islam - A Short History written by a lady who embarked on a DPhil on the poet Tennyson (and was failed by her external examiner). Citing a book written by a failed poetry professor to defend "honor" killings, wife beating and children being raped by older adult males is pretty weak sauce sean.

Anonymous said...

I read your comment Nemo. Sean has a Ph.D. in Islamic Philosophy and Koranic Study from Gateway Technical College.

Nemo said...

Anon, do you mean THE Gateway Technical College? The one that offers education for the 21st century? Where you can choose from many challenging majors like PC Repair, Medical Encoding, High School, Bowling and Islamic Philosophy and Koranic Study. I can't find the words to convey my level of awe. Maybe Tennyson could, but not me.

Sean Cranley said...

Oh Nemo, you neglected to include the next sentence from the Early Life section of the wikipedia article you copied and pasted from. Dishonesty from Nemo, I'm shocked!

Here's the whole thing: "After graduating with a congratulatory First, she embarked on a DPhil on the poet Tennyson, but was failed by her external examiner.[2] This period was marked by ill-health – her life-long but, at that time, undiagnosed epilepsy discussed in her autobiography The Spiral Staircase – as well as the difficult readjustment to outside life."

So she went through a struggle and failed at Tennyson and that disqualifies her on her later study of Islam?

Then you cite a blog by a whackidoodle fundy televangelist as further proof that she's wrong and all Muslims are evil. You're pegging out on the extremist failure meter.

But then you shatter it with this blatant, bald faced LIE (shocked again!): "Citing a book written by a failed poetry professor to defend "honor" killings, wife beating and children being raped by older adult males is pretty weak sauce sean."

I have never and would never defend those things. You could prove me wrong by bringing the quotes form me saying that, but unfortunately for you, they don't exist.

You on the other hand are word twisting weaseling little liar and the proof is only 2 paragraphs above and in you're forthcoming inability to produce the quotes.

If you must lie to advance your thoughts, your thoughts are not advanced. To say the least.

Sean Cranley said...

Hey, Preachterboy, you wanna see some whackiddoodle pontificatin from so called Christian preachters? Cuz I could provide ana unending flood of religious crazies from all walks. There's never been a shortage of that since the dawn of humankind and your liitle post only confirms that.

Just say the word and I'll open the floodgates.

Nemo said...

sean, where did I say, "all Muslims are evil"?

Sean Cranley said...

O.K. well I would absoloutely agree that some of the practices that haveb cited here are clearly evil. You've been decrying these evils that you've assigned to all of Islam. So.

A: What IS your position on the adherants to Islam, Muslims?

B: Do support their constitutional right to peacefully and lawfully practice their religion in the U.S. and to build their places of worship in any location where a church, synagogue, etc. could be built?

Preachrboy said...


While I find your entire approach to argumentation off-putting, I will concede that there are "whackadoodles" to be found in every religion - or at least going by the name of each religion.

However this doesn't negate the truth that Christianity and Islam are essentially different religions.

It also doesn't negate the rather disturbing teachings found in the Koran, in the life of Mohammed, and in "mainstream" Islam as it is practiced throughout the world - including the brutal persecution of Christians by (mostly) Muslims in many places today (like Africa).

Properly understood Christianity IS a religion of peace. Properly understood Islam has a much harder case to make...

Now I think I'll go have a beer and not worry about getting put to death.

Sean Cranley said...

I finally get a chance to address some points in Denis' orignal post.

Human moral principles are neither relative nor absolute as your examples exemplify. The moral principles that we have evolved are provisional. That means they apply to most people in most cultures in most circumstances most of the time.

Thou shalt not kill is not absolute. In fact, originally it (like all primitive tribal laws) only applied to other members of the tribe (Jews).

Clearly the U.K. was right to declare war on Nazi Germany when they invaded Poland.

That of course was not an inter-civilizational clash, but rather intra-civilizational. AND Hitler was not only elected, but had the backing of a large portion of the people of the German nation. Neither of those conditions applies to Islam and the 9/11 attack.

Just war (Englands not Germany's)is of course very different from the deliberate killing of innocent civilians such as on 9/11. Most Humans would agree that violense to stop German aggression was morally just. Few,including Muslims, would argue that the 9/11 attackers acted justly or morally.

Speaking of which, are you aware that after the 9/11 attacks Iranians (Muslims) took to the streets by the thousands in sympathy for what happened to America and the world that day?

Your slavery example demostrates that we are still evolving morally. Unfortunately, it's not an uninterrupted march and we're not all moving forward together at once. Islam was arguably more advanced that Christendom during the dark ages. We having gone through the enlightenment are more advaqnced today. Principally because, other than a minority of whackos, most westerners no longer take all their religious texts literally and behave accordingly.

The major advance in that evolution over the last several hundred years and arguably since Jesus extended his teachings and salvation to all mankind and not just his tribe is that the golden rule applies not just to kith and kin. If we want to survive and advance, this moral principle applies to all mankind and arguably to the planet we live on.

So you see your statement "Some things are right, others wrong, irrespective of consensus." is right sometimes, it just depends.

But your clash of civilizations model is not only just wrong with respect to your WWII example and the 9/11 attacks. It's morally wrong and it's dangerous to our survival.

Sean Cranley said...

Preachrboy, religious persecution is nothing new. I assume by "brutal presecution", you're refering to the Darfur region. Certainly there is a religious element to the persecution, but the people involved are also from different tribes, speak different languages and are of different racial groups. All of these ahve been more than sufficient excuses to get us humans to kill one another. All that's needed is to dehumanize the "other" so that they're sub-human and you can get people to hack away at one another.

Personally, I think it's probably more about land and resources than anything. You know, the real reasons we kill each other. Say, isn't southern Sudan cursed by the presence of large oil reserves?

Nemo said...

sean, are you saying that you absolutely disagree with the UU statement if by "all religions" they include ones that condone the for mentioned evil? If so, Huzzah!

As for A, if they are not radical Islamists (the I'll cut your dirty head from your dirty body kind) I have no secular problems with them.

And B) I think Governor Walker said it best during last week's debate.

4 Weeks, 4 Days, 8 Hours, 27 Minutes :)

Preachrboy said...


I have read heart=wrenching stories of Muslim women in both Africa and India who converted to Christianity and were persecuted, abused, and even killed for it by their own fathers and brothers.

This in keeping with the tenets of Islam that prohibits conversion from Islam on penalty of death.

I strongly disagree, of course, with your theory of "moral evolution", but haven't the inclination to argue it.

Jesus, you know, the Son of God, taught that there are really two great commands - Love God and Love your neighbor, and that all the other commandments (morality) hang on these. Would you agree on that?

Sean Cranley said...

Yes Nemo, I would disagree with the UU staement if they intended to condone violence in the name of religion, which of course is ludicrous. This third attempt by you to insert the square peg of yours into the round hole is indeed a testament to your stubborn boneheadeness.

Preacherboy, you keep bringing up bad things that are supposedly done in the name of Islam as an excuse to condemn the religion and all who practice it. Show me the verse in the Koran that forbids conversion.

I won't spend any time looking for where the bible says we should burn heretics or witches, or stone people.

BTW, sharia Law was developed after the the death of Mohammed. Female mutilation id practiced mostly in North Africa by Jews, Christians, Muslims and members of tribal religions. It (along with male cirumcision started acneint Egypt in the time of the Pharoahs and therefore, it predates both Christianity and Islam. There is still a lot of backwards shtuff in this world.

Instead of the brutal dictatorships of the middle-east (many of which are propped up by our government) which use religion as a tool of oppression and control for political power (a practice as old and as universal as the divine right of kings) why not consider Malaysia or Indonesia as models. They're the most populous Muslim countries. Islam was spread there by Arabic traders, not by trbal conquest. They're generally peaceful countries where people enjoy teir freedoms.

I have no particular interest in defending Islam or any other religion. Thay all arise out of the same universal human evolutionary adaptation that allowed our acestors to thrive as social animals in successful communities. I do however have an interest in NOT condemning whole swaths of my fellow humanbeings, turning them into the "others" like the Nazis did to the jews, like happens in ALL genocides which are more common and deadly than even wars and thereby creating a needless threat to the survival of my species and my planet.

I of course agree completely with your last paragraph and also the following:

- Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of they people, but thous shalt love they neighbor as thy self. Leviticus. 19:18 c. 1000 BC.

- What you do not want other to do to you, do not do to others. Confucious c. 500 BC.

- Do not do to others what would anger you if done to you by others. Isocrates c 375 BC.

- What thou thyself hatest, do to no man. Tobias 4:15 c. 180 BC.

- This is the sum of all true righteousness: deal with others as thou wouldst thyself by done by. Do nothing to thy neighbor that thou wouldst not have him do to thee hereafter. The Mahabharata c. 150 BC.

- As ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise. Luke 1st century AD.

The best advice of all times that we should all follow, including with respect to our Muslim brothers and sisters.

Sean Cranley said...

BTW, if you want to see some examples of extreme nastiness perpetrated in the name of religion, but really being of course about the tribal possession of land and gold, look at my last post under universalist truth, the string that preceded this one on the same subject (whatever that is).

Preachrboy said...

I'm not for condemning swaths of people either, I'm more concerned with the disturbing teachings of Islam, which you seem to want to dismiss or excuse away.

While I can say in truth that atrocities done in the name of Christianity do not exhibit true Christianity, Islamic terrorism has a much harder case to make.

And disagreeing with a religion's teachings doesn't automatically lead to a pogrom. Sheesh. What a line of argument.

Surely Malaysia and Indonesia are more populous, but are they more representative of "true Islam" than the Middle Eastern countries?