Tuesday, November 01, 2011

good heavens

Any form of social change which proceeds by little baby steps (as most of them do) will tend to be largely invisible to those participating in it unless they make a point of stepping back and reflecting on it. Hell, that applies to any form of incremental change; I still see the same face looking back out of the bathroom mirror as I did when I was 20, but I'm self-aware enough to know that that's an illusion.

It's instructive, then, to watch this clip from the BBC programme The Big Questions and reflect that it wouldn't have been so long ago that it would have been unthinkable for the intervention about 25 seconds in to have been made, and for the subsequent exchange to have happened. If for some reason you can't see the clip, here's a (slightly paraphrased) summary:
God-botherer: All aborted foetuses go to heaven. Totes. For real.
Sensible woman: By that rationale, doesn't that mean we've done them a favour by aborting them before they can get all soiled and sinful?
God-botherer: No. Also....look over there! [runs away]
Sensible woman: This whole "heaven" idea is patently ridiculous, isn't it? I mean, look at yourselves.
Some idiot: Aha, but you "believe" in money, and that doesn't exist, does it? HA! CHECKMATE!
Sensible woman: WTF?
Some idiot: Money. Doesn't exist. Ergo, a) there is a God, and b) I win.
Sensible woman: WTF?
The woman courageous enough to tell a room full of swivel-eyed goddists that they are idiots is Kate Smurthwaite, who is a stand-up comic, vice-chair of Abortion Rights UK, blogger and tweeter.

Now you might usefully choose to argue with the value of calling those who believe in heaven "idiots" (clearly by any objective measure they are idiots, but you might question the political effectiveness of telling them so). It's interesting, though, to compare that pretty mild rebuke with the reactions in the comments threads at the various sites where the video clip has been posted, a few of which are reproduced here, and a disturbing number of which take the form "how dare she - a woman - diss God? Someone should RAPE SOME SENSE INTO HER". Now it's not necessarily easy to tell which of these are genuine insane religious outrage, and which are just 14-year-olds trolling, and, in both cases, how much these sentiments are amplified as a result of the Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory, but it puts "idiot" in perspective, anyway.

Of course the increasing social acceptability of vocal dissent from the status quo of religious nonsense being given uncritical approval is great - on the other hand the fact that there still exists a religious TV programme on a main terrestrial channel called The Big Questions is a bit depressing. As this tweet says, as far as God and religion go there really is only one "big question", and the answer is "no".

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