Monday, February 24, 2014

Kate Perry vs Islam

Oh dear GOD, spare us all from the ridiculousness of your followers. And when the ridiculousness of your followers collides with the ridiculousness of modern pop music, it just gets doubly ridiculous!

Case in point, the latest thing to piss off some Muslims, the fact that in Katy Perry's new, pathetically bad, ancient Egyptian themed music video for 'Dark Horse'. It shows a man being turned into sand. For some reason, this ancient Egyptian man is wearing a necklace that says 'Allah' in Arabic, even though Islam wasn't invented until centuries later. But, really, it doesn't matter. It's a music video. It's not meant to be a history lesson.

Here's what has some people pissed off. At 1:15 min into the video, the man (I believe it's "rapper" Juicy J?) wearing the necklace is turned into sand. The necklace, as well, is turned into sand. Now, you can't even notice the fact that he is wearing this particular necklace unless you actually pause the video and look for it at that point. Someone apparently did. And, now people are mad saying that Katy Perry has insulted Islam, interpreting the fact that the man turns into sand as him burning and thus the name of Allah being burned.

Now, there are a number of issues here, as far as I am concerned. First off, people are more upset that a necklace is turned into sand than a man turned into sand. Mind you, he isn't really turned into sand, nor is the necklace, it is merely fancy dancy special effects. So, not to worry, the necklace survives in the end. Hate to spoil that bit of music video wizardry for people. I know people know that, and see it as a symbolic 'insult' to Islam as opposed to believing the necklace was turned into sand, but, quite frankly, it's funny. It's funny how the 'symbolic' destruction of a human gets not concern, but the 'symbolic' destruction of a necklace does, merely because of it's shape.

Okay, fine, you know what, we know that some Muslims, and I stress SOME Muslims, get completely bent out of shape over anything perceived as an 'insult' to their religion, no matter how slight it may be. Most will walk away from this feeling possibly a bit mad. Some on social media, however, are demanding YouTube take down the video, ban it, say they hate that 'bitch' (interesting, seeing as swearing is haram in Islam), saying they will never listen to her again and people should boycott her. Now, fine, if you don't want to listen to her again, that's your choice. But, I think calling for an outright ban of a video for something that cannot even be seen without pausing it, or because the perception some have is that it is an 'insult' to Islam is going a bit too far. And, to me, it's all ridiculous.

I do get very tired of this demanding of respect for religion. I believe I have mentioned it before. Demanding respect for a homophobic, genocidal, ego-maniacal, sexist, arrogant, demanding god is a bit rich. Mind you, it's god. It doesn't exist. But, people believe it not only exists but MUST be respected. I don't agree with that. If something does not exist it isn't worthy of ANYTHING. It doesn't exist. Period. But, if we go for some notion that this god does exist, the idea that we should automatically, without question respect it is....well....ridiculous. Now, the demand is to respect the religion and not insult the god, prophet or followers. Welllllll, wait a minute. This is the same religion that says I am going to burn in a fiery hell for eternity for not believing in it. I'm supposed to respect this belief?? It's the same religion that condemns gays for being, you know, gay. I'm supposed to respect this belief?? No. Sorry. I can't do that. And no one should feel obligated to respect something they don't feel respectful of. Now, that doesn't mean I'm running out and burning Qurans on the corner. It just means that when something like this comes up, I want to scream out BULLSHIT, deal with it, when people get bent out of shape over an image that lasts a millisecond! And, the best place to do that, of course, is on social media, where we all scream out everything we want to scream out anyway.

So, here is the deal. If you are mad that Katy Perry's very bad video for a very bad song has a millisecond where Allah's name get's turned into dust because it is on a man who is turned to dust, who isn't actually turned to dust, nor the name, then, fine. It's your prerogative. But, really? Seriously? Honestly? Give me a break. Is it really worth being that upset about? I got it, your ultra sensitive about your religion because imams and scholars keep DRIVING into people's heads that these things are insulting. But, I keep seeing kids, not very old, saying how Katy Perry has disgraced Islam. Well, what? Is it really THAT big of deal in your early teens? Who is instructing you to see this millisecond of video as so highly offensive that it should be banned? It seems to me that the propaganda and dogma within ultra conservative interpretations of the religion is being blasted into the minds of young kids who just repeat what their imams, parents and scholars (a term I use loosely) as opposed to really feeling the deep insult that they report they feel. But, at the same time, who am I to say who should be insulted by what.

But, frankly, if we are talking about banning videos, oh dear GAWD this is no shortage of Islamic assholes attacking the West, atheists, Christians, Jews, Israel, gays and lesbians, and whatever else they can completely lay hate on, and yet it's this Katy Perry video that people want taken down? Give me a break, people. Spare me. It's too rich, to ridiculous, in my view. You don't have to like the video. I don't like the video or the song. But, it is what it is, and the millions of Katy Perry fans out there love it, so more power to them. And, if your god gets angry about a necklace shaped into it's name being turned to dust in a music video, then that is a scary god that I want nothing to do with! That is not a loving god. That is a vengeful, angry, spiteful, self loving, arrogant god that is spending too much time focused on a millisecond of video and not enough time on saving sick children. Please, keep that god away from me, because frankly, that god is an asshole. 

Friday, February 14, 2014

There is NO Atheist Movement.

Am I an atheist? Ya. It appears that I am. I cannot escape from the idea that I am. Face it, I am. It's not the easiest thing to admit in this religion obsessed world, when so many people you know and love are believers. But, face it, I'm an atheist.

Today, I read, for the first time, about the "atheist movement" and I shuddered. Atheist movement??? What is this! Atheism is NOT a movement. It's not as if it is a religion. There are no popes, priests, imams, or anything of that nature. There is no central spokesperson. It doesn't need a spokesperson of any sort. It is not a movement. It is what it is. It is a natural state of being before indoctrination. It is not an organized belief. The vast majority of atheists prefer the logic of science over the dogma of religion, however, that doesn't define atheism. Atheism is what it is. It is not having a religious belief or affiliation. Organized movement? No way.

There is no need to proselytize atheism. It is not something that needs to be proven to anyone. The proof for atheism lies in the complete absence of proof of any kind of god or gods. It speaks for itself. No atheist speaks for any other atheist. Some people would like to put Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens or other famed atheists on top of the heap, as some kinds of leaders. They aren't. They are not leaders. They are atheists. They have their views which are open to like, dislike, challenges, praise or what have you. They don't speak for me. They don't speak for anyone but themselves. They are who they are. We all are who we are. That's it. No leaders. No followers. No churches. No dogma.

So, when I hear someone say "atheist movement", I sort of feel like they are missing the boat and not understanding what atheism is. Mind you, this is my opinion and my opinion only. Like I said, I do not speak for other atheists. I challenge strongly this notion of a movement. I don't see atheism as being a movement nor needing a movement.  It does not need leaders or spokespeople. It is not that kind of -ism. It is not a religion. It is not a system of governance or finance. It is not a cohesive belief system. It is not even a belief system, period. So, how can their be a movement?

Some are arguing that because of years of persecution, there is a need to band together to fight religion. Not really. No. I mean, you can stand up against religious superiority and persecution without a cohesive movement. We know persecution is wrong, right? Therefore, we fight persecution because we are humans who know that it is wrong. One does not need to be an atheist to fight against persecution.

Is disagreeing persecution? No. Can people hate, criticize, mock, dislike or laugh at atheism? Of course. Who cares. Go for it. It doesn't change facts that exist that make atheism a logical conclusion. It is not something that has to be fought for. There is no jealous god or hyper sensitive prophet needing defending. Dawkins and Hitch don't need defending. They are grown men who can stand on their own two feet (well, unfortunately, Hitch can't anymore...RIP). They don't need defending. They defend themselves quite nicely, and good on them. They take tons of criticism and they deal with it (must stop using present tense for Hitch) in their own way. So, no, atheism is not some movement. It isn't meant to be on the same plane as religion. There should be no grand fight for followers like the other religions have. We don't have to claim that we are the "fastest growing religion in the world!" because it doesn't matter. You either accept it or don't. There is no number count. You are either with logic, or with a religious belief system. Your choice. Up to you.

To sum up, as if I haven't already....atheism is not and should not be seen as a movement. Again, my opinion. My view. I speak for no other atheists. That's the point. Atheists are atheists. They think for themselves. They represent themselves. They view the world in their own way. Period. Each is responsible for their own beliefs. This is mine. 

Sunday, February 2, 2014

The Ups and Downs of World Hijab Day

You know what the world needs? A straight white males perspective on World Hijab Day. That's right. It's the opinion you all have been dying for. I know you have all been clammering, waiting to hear viewpoint from a white man. Sure, there are plenty of, say, Muslim women, who talked about this topic today, but it's really the white guys opinion you want, right? No, you say? Oh.

Well, I'm going to write a blog post about it anyway, because that's just what I do, dammit. I stick my nose in everywhere. I have an opinion about anything, and I have a few things to say about this one. 

I spent much of the day following (and sometimes posting to) the twitter hashtag #WorldHijabDay. I knew this day had been coming. I saw the tag days before. I anticipated the excitement. This was going to be awesome. What was going to be said on this hashtag? Gawd only knows. 

Here's what I did see. I saw a lot of Muslim girls and women who seem very proud, happy and blessed that they wear a hijab. To them I say, "Kudos!". If you like it, good. Wear the sucker, I don't care. If it gives you a positive feeling, then that's good, right? Of course not everyone is forced to wear the hijab. There are many people who choose it and love it and that point was driven home to excess today. Mind you, this was mostly by Western based Muslim women who have never had to live in a country where they didn't have the choice. But, that's just a small issue....sort of. 

Of course, there have been a small number of Western countries, France being the main one that I know of, that has banned face veils although not hijabs. There has been debate and controversy in other places, including here in Canada, in Quebec about bans or restrictions of some sort. Quebec is working on a law that would ban headcoverings and religious wear from provincial government institutions. My feelings on that? Complex. I would need another blog post. And, when I lived in Turkey, women weren't allowed to wear hijabs in government institutions or Universities. That has since been overturned but, there you have it, a country with a 90 percent Muslim population banning hijabs. Doesn't just happen in the West. Doesn't just happen in non-Muslim countries. Actually, for the most part, people are quite free to wear what they want in the vast majority of the West. Not so much in the Muslim world. 

Now, there are also many tales of discrimination, dirty looks, and even violence towards women wearing a nijab. What? Come again? WHY??? Why would anyone attack anyone for wearing the hijab. That is appalling and disgusting in so many ways. No way, in any society, should this ever be looked at as acceptable. I am not going to play stupid and naive. I know it has happened. I have read sad, sad news stories about it. I condemn this in the fullest. Attacking another human being for what they are wearing is low, disgusting and wrong. Don't do it! Don't! Just don't. No. Not acceptable. Ever. 

Okay, so that is out of the way. 

The other major thing I learned today is that not everyone was happy about World Hijab Day. A fresh new hashtag came on the scene: #notohijabappropriation. Oh boy. Just when things seemed simple and straightforward, this one came along. 

So, the thrust behind the main campaign, the World Hijab Day, was more of a "Walk a mile in our shoes" sort of thing. Come on, try the hijab for a day, it ain't so bad! You'll like it! See what we go through! Seems innocent and well meaning enough. No. It isn't it turns out. Apparently, all these innocent, well meaning people are guilty of appropriation for taking part in this world wide campaign in 100 countries. This irked me a bit. Here are all these people being stopped in malls and schools and on the street and asked to take part in the event, and then another group comes along and accuses the people of appropriation. Well, that backfired spectacularly. If you took part and didn't get the full Muslim experience, you are screwed, you have appropriated, you evil, evil person (sarcasm). 

Now, despite me saying that, the anti-appropriation crowd had the far better argument. You can't understand a culture/religion or the lives of the people living it by putting a scarf on your head for a day. Fair point. Can't argue with that. I agree. It's like someone dropping into Winnipeg in July for a few days, going home and telling everyone who beautiful, warm and friendly it is. Unless you are here year round, when the snow is chin deep and the temperatures will freeze your appendages off, and your car won't start, and you can barely drive on the poorly maintained roads, you don't know what Winnipeg is truly like. Bad analogy? I'm sure someone will think so. 

Really, all you are doing by putting on the scarf is....putting on a scarf. That's the argument anyway. Can't argue against it really, unless one really invests the time into finding out the trials and tribulations of those who wear it everyday in the name of their religion, you really can't know what it's like. In others words, if you aren't a Muslim woman who wears the hijab faithfully, you won't get it. The message from these folks? Don't just stick on the to Muslim women, get to know them, get to know what they experience, find out. As was pointed out, the hijab is not the sole defining point of a person. It is an important part, but there is much more. And, the experiences that come with being a Muslim woman and wearing the hijab can't be duplicated unless you are in that position. Makes sense. Can't argue with that. However, it seems that telling other well meaning women off for taking part in a highly publicized campaign is a bit....mean. Maybe break it to them gently? Just a suggestion. 

Now, the hijab itself? Honestly, people swear it is not a sign of oppression, it's a sign of freedom. Okay, well, if that's what you feel, good. You can't tell someone who feels free that they are oppressed. That makes no sense. It's hard for me to understand this freedom that is often talked about, but that's okay. It's not up to me to understand. If someone says they feel free, good for them. But then, all of these lovely analogies popped up. Oh, the analogies. "A women in a hijab is like a pearl in a clamshell!" or "Would you rather a peice of unwrapped discarded candy? Or a new, fresh wrapped candy!" Oh dear gawd. I've always hated these analogies. People aren't pearls. They aren't candy. They are people. So, reading these things again was just painful. But, if someone wants to see themselves as a precious piece of candy, that's up to them. 

The biggest, biggest problem I have with the whole hijab thing? Along with the defending of the hijab comes the innevitable slut shaming of women who don't wear the hijab. Oh, man, how many times did I read about how a woman in a hijab is far more beautiful than a woman walking around half naked. Of course the hijab means you have more respect for your body (sarcasm). Wearing the hijab means that people look at your mind, not your body (sarcasm). UGH! This makes me want to scream! Basically, the implication is, "What? You don't wear a hijab? What an immoral slut you must be!" Exaggerating? Yes and no. Depends on the person making the comment and the ferocity of their opinion on it. But, come ON! Can't you enjoy the hijab and what it means to you without slut shaming other women or implying they are immoral, indecent or don't have respect for themselves?? That doesn't help the image of the hijab at all. If a person wants to wear a bikini, that isn't saying they are immoral or they don't have respect for themselves. It's saying, "Right now, I've decided to wear a bikini." And there is nothing wrong with that. The thing is, we all have bodies. We are humans. We know what flesh looks like. The vast majority of us can go through life seeing women in bikinis and NOT be driven to rape. Many of us can look at another being with maturity and confidence and not just want to have sex with them. We can do that! So, don't shame us folks who aren't buying into this whole modesty trap as being essential to a well oiled society. Just as you have your views on what you want to wear and want respect, so does everyone else. For that matter, I want to be able to wear a Jesus and Mo t-shirt and not be threatened with death....:) (Sorry, that is in reference to another "scandal" I have been following on twitter lately, the Mo Ansar and Mo Shafiq vs Maajid Nawaz face off over the posting of a Jesus and Mo cartoon)

And for gawd sakes, I wish I could read a tag like this and NOT feel like a dirty rapist. Look, I don't have lustful eyes for every woman on the planet. Please don't look at me or see me as someone who does. More likely than not, if I see a girl in shorts and a tank top at the grocery store, and I go up to her, it's to ask where she found the toilet paper in her basket and how much it costs and not even notice anything else. You know what? A good number of us men really are like that. We just do our thing. Men, just as women, just as Muslims, just as anyone else, are diverse. We are not a homogenized block of humans who all act and think the same. Please, before you say how you are protecting yourself from the lustful gaze of men who sometimes just can't help themselves when they see someones hair from molesting them, count me out of that equation. I'm not part of that. If this is how you see men, then I am not one. I am other than that and don't wish to be put into that category, okay?  So, yes, there is an element of this that I do find personally insulting....and insulting to many men. 

So, with all that said, everyone go back to wearing whatever suits them best, relax, enjoy, chill out and do your thing. If you are thinking of assaulting anyone for any reason....DON'T! We only have one life to live (despite what religious folks might say). Do we really want to spend the whole thing judging each others clothing choices, and their personal morals and values? No. We don't. Yes. I did just answer that for you.