What happened in Aurora, Colorado is horrifying. Human beings died, many more are suffering, and a whole community is grieving. Instead of reaching out to those who are suffering, @$$clowns are blaming the shooting on… liberals.
Here is the American
Family Patriarchy Association blaming the actions of the Colorado shooter — by all accounts a Christian active in his church — on me and my godless liberalism. Via rightwingwatch:
Fred Jackson, the American Family Association’s news director, while discussing the Colorado movie theater shooting today said that liberal Christian churches and liberal media helped contribute to violent incidents by supposedly deemphasizing the fear of God and the Bible. During AFA Today, Jackson had on as his guest Jerry Newcombe of Truth in Action Ministries to discuss his column on the AFA’s OneNewsNow blaming the shooting on a waning fear of God and Hell, and blamed the American Civil Liberties Union for destroying the public school system by supposedly forbidding students from reading the Bible. “You wonder why all these terrible things are happening to us when there is no fear of God,” Newcombe said.
So how does this work, exactly? I give money to the ACLU, and god makes one of his minions kill a bunch of midnight moviegoers in…Colorado? What an @$$hole. I mean, I don’t want anyone else to die, but for some reason I suddenly have an urge to give more money to the ACLU.
Jackson maintained that unlike in the communities of forty years ago, liberals in the media and churches, along with movies and the internet, have “have come together to give us these kinds of incidents.”
Jackson: In the community there were community standards that reflected biblical principles, whether people knew it or not, the standard in the community was based on Scripture. In that short period of time, roughly forty years, we have seen such a transformation in values in our communities, whether it’s rural or whether it’s big city. I have to think that all of this, whether it’s the Hollywood movies, whether it’s what we see on the internets [sic], whether it’s liberal bias in the media, whether it’s our politicians changing public policy, I think all of those somehow have fit together—and I have to say also churches who are leaving the authority of Scripture and losing their fear of God—all of those things have seem to have come together to give us these kinds of incidents.
Oh, yes. Up until forty years ago everyone lived such idyllic, peaceful lives, before Iris came along and ruined everything by donating to the ACLU. The whole country was locked in a perpetual loop of a Leave It To Beaver episode, and good Christian gunmen never went on killing sprees. Or, you know, not:
Howard Barton Unruh (January 21, 1921 – October 19, 2009) was an American mass murderer (sometimes classified as a spree killer) who killed 13 people on September 6, 1949, in Camden, New Jersey, when he was 28 years old.
His mother supported him by working at a factory while Howard hung around the house and attended daily church services.
Truefax: Howard Unruh is allegedly a (distant) relative of mine. Anyway, of course the patriarchy putzes didn’t stop there:
Update: Later in the program, Jackson and co-host Teddy James of AFA Journal said the shooting is a sign of God’s judgment for the failings of the public education system and liberal, mainline Protestant churches that affirm gays and lesbians.
I knew it! It’s the fault of gay people and their liberal churches!
Jackson: I think the sources of this is [sic] multifaceted but you can put it all I think under the heading of rebellion to God, a rejection of the God of the Bible. I think along with an education system that has produced our lawyers, our politicians, more teachers, more professors, all of that sort of thing, is our churches, mainline churches. We’ve been dealing Teddy and I know the AFA Journal has been dealing with denominations that no longer believe in the God of the Bible, they no longer believe that Jesus is the only way of salvation, they teach that God is OK with homosexuality, this is just increasing more and more. It is mankind shaking its fist at the authority of God.
James: And God will not be silent when he’s mocked, and we need to remember that.
Okay, now that’s just silly: I mock god all the time, and usually all I ever hear in response are crickets.
Next up, we have the odious Rick Warren, who blames the Colorado shooting on… the teaching of evolution. You know: the fact that all life on Earth evolved (and continues to evolve) from a common ancestor. Pastor Warren tweeted:
When students are taught they are no different from animals, they act like it.
I helpfully tweeted in reply:
@RickWarren How exactly do they act when you teach them they’re unworthy sinners who deserve to burn in hell for eternity?
So, just to recap: prominent American Christians are reprehensible idiots.
Christianity is not the cause of these shootings any more than gay bishops or evolutionary biologists are. I personally despise Christianity for many reasons, but as PZ Myers points out, “the overwhelming majority of Christians feel no compulsion to murder, so it seems to be a rather ineffective ideology for encouraging killing sprees.” What’s interesting here is that these clowns are feeling so defensive and lashing out at liberalism and it’s close cousin “reality.” Christianity is not to blame for the murderous actions of any one individual—but it’s pretty hard to get around the obvious fact that being Christian obviously is not enough to inhibit such actions, either. Prisons are chock full of Christians, after all.
A senior Iranian cleric says women who wear immodest clothing and behave promiscuously are to blame for earthquakes. “Many women who do not dress modestly lead young men astray, corrupt their chastity and spread adultery in society, which increases earthquakes,” the cleric, Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi, was quoted as saying by Iranian media. Mr. Sedighi is Tehran’s acting Friday Prayer leader.
[Jenn] McCreight encouraged her blog’s readers to help her poke fun at Seddiqi by dressing “in your immodest clothing to represent Boobquake”, an invitation then extended to the world via Facebook. She described Boobquake as a scientific experiment: “With the power of our scandalous bodies combined, we should surely produce an earthquake. If not, I’m sure Sedighi can come up with a rational explanation for why the ground didn’t rumble.”
Really, mockery at its finest. I’m sure these fine Christian patriarchs would agree with their Islamic counterpart that “women who do not dress modestly lead young men astray, corrupt their chastity and spread adultery in society,” but they would be the first to mock any connection between cleavage and earthquakes. Wait. Now that I think about it, would they?
Finally, I want to share a point that carlie, a regular commenter at Pharyngula, made on the topic of the shooter, expressing something important and powerful that is all too easy to forget when we are reeling from shock and horror:
They are not other than us. They are very much the same as us. They are people who have had things go wrong in their lives, who grew up blaming other people for their own problems, who listened to a lot of rhetoric about how important it is to have power and how power can be obtained by violence. Calling them psychopaths and monsters allows you to distance yourself from them by saying oh, I’d never be like that, no one I know is like that, it’s not my problem. No. It’s our humanity; we have to own it.
Calling him a psychopath means you don’t have to feel guilty that you support the legislators who cut mental health services to save you thirty cents a year on your taxes. Calling him a psychopath means you don’t have to feel guilty that you don’t volunteer or donate or in any way support your local school district so it can provide adequate services to turn out graduates who are capable of getting a good job. It means you don’t have to feel guilty about cutting social services who can intervene when a family is in trouble.
Separating him out and calling him a monster means you can absolve yourself of your portion of responsibility for supporting an environment that allows a person to have tragedy after missed opportunity after lack of education after no support that ends up in a guy who is angry at the world and has no life skills and can’t think of any other way to express his bitterness. So who’s the monster?
Note that this view does not absolve the gunman of responsibility for his acts; it points out what should be an obvious fact, namely that such acts do not occur in a vacuum. Though we are all necessarily creatures of our culture, we also share responsibility for shaping it, for good and for ill. If we’re looking for a monster, we can all take a good long look in the mirror, because under certain circumstances every single one of us is fully capable of truly monstrous acts. We would do well to remember this.