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It seems that whenever there is tragedy, there are people trying to capitalize on it. For political gain, to release pain (hello misplaced aggression), or as an excuse to go after their enemies even when those “enemies” had no part in the tragedy. Everyone’s got their pet peeve to bleed out and a tragedy is a great time to do it. Hell, I suppose even as a guardian of the dead, I’m not above this. Although this base necromancy of dead souls is something that tends to anger me more than most things do. And one of the reasons I haven’t written a memorial post for the Orlando victims is because there is too much necromancy with their souls going on for them to be laid to rest.

So in the face of necromancy, I will use necromancy myself so that, hopefully, I might lay them to rest sooner rather than later. Which brings me to one of a few post I’m probably going to be talking about. This one is by my old foe Halstead. Not because I want to seek him out in particular, but his post is a good starting point and actually shows hints of self awareness. Awareness, I hope, which brings this matter to a close sooner rather than later. Let us look at Guns or Religion? The Danger of Simple Answers

In the wake of yet another tragic (and yet painfully predictable) incident of gun violence and religious zealotry, I recently found myself sharing the the grief and rage of a gay friend.  My friend, who is an atheist, was directing his outrage at religion, especially theistic religion, because of the role it played in this most recent mass murder.  While trying to console my friend, I also wanted to defend my co-religionists.  Not all religious people are bigots, I said.  And some of the victims themselves were likely religious.  My friend was not mollified.  And I was baffled by what I saw as my friend’s overly simplistic black-or-white thinking.

Well, John, I can explain why your gay friend has an overly simplistic view of the situation: all religion is bad and to blame.

He’s a bigot.

Now, I’m sure it’s hard for people to wrap their head around the idea that a gay atheist could be a bigot, but a bigot is just someone who has their particular view of the world and will not change that view regardless of any evidence presented that refutes said worldview.

And like most atheists, he views “theism” and “Theistic religions” as stupid, inferior, make believe that people use as an excuse for their “violence and bigotry.” Which, if I recall correctly, is much how Halstead viewed polytheism back when he and I had our massive series of debates. And having this view of Theistic Religion, John’s friend is unwilling to change his position regardless of situation, circumstances, or evidence to the contrary.

Hence: Bigot.

I am a non-theistic religious person.  And I am strong advocate of gun control.  I believe assault rifles should be banned and that that purchasing even a hunting rifle should be heavily regulated.  So, naturally, I found myself wanting to blame the actions of this homicidal maniac on the lack of gun regulation instead of religion…

Here (and I’m not saying this as an insult) we have an example of Halstead’s own “bigotry.” He doesn’t like guns. He thinks it is wrong for people to have certain guns, and that even some guns he thinks it’s okay for some people to have that they should be heavily regulated so not just anyone can have them.

So rather than people having equal access to firearms, only a select few, the “right people” would be allowed to have those particular guns Halstead finds acceptable. The idea that any free, law abiding citizen should have access to any weapon (despite the 2nd Amendment stating “shall not be infringed”) is something Halstead finds “morally wrong” and it is a position he will not budge from, regardless of any evidence to the contrary of his position.

So even as Halstead is baffled by his friend’s “bigotry” towards religion, he is already preparing ways to enforce his “bigotry” towards guns.

…As I listened to new reports and the ensuing debates, I mentally rehearsed my defenses to the atheists’ condemnation of religion.  But something tugged at my attention.  I noticed my defenses sounded eerily familiar.  In fact, they sounded just like the defenses used by gun ownership advocates.

And here we see a glimpse of self awareness.

In his arguments to defend religion and the rights of religion, he sounded like gun owners and those defending their gun rights. One of the things I find so ironic is that so many people are willing to defend the 1st amendment, but condemn the 2nd. But an argument that they will accept as the defense of the 1st they will deny when it comes to the 2nd.

Of course, there’s a reason that arguments for one sound like arguments for the other. Because the logic that provides for the 1st is the exact same logic that provides for the 2nd. People have a right to free expression, regardless of that expression or how offensive others find it. And people have the right to defend themselves, regardless of method or how offensive others find it.

guns-and-religion-1024x657In this image, Halstead even shows more of this self awareness.

Both are protected by the Constitution. Both allow people to protect themselves or to harm others. The neutrality of their value is debatable, etc. He even claims that societies that lack them get along just fine (debatable, but we’ll get to that), and that where they exist there are high degrees of “societal violence” (also debatable and also something we’ll get to).

“Religion isn’t all bad,” I thought to myself, “There’s good religionists and bad religionists.  It’s not fair to lump all religious people into the same category as one zealot.  People will find excuses to kill each other even without religion. ”  But I heard other words echoing in my head: Guns don’t kill people.  People kill people.  It’s not fair to lump all gun owners together with one deranged person.  People will find ways to kill each other without guns.

There’s a very good meme that I’ve found that relates to this.

13432374_1374001982616626_6626013230080740859_nIt does a good job of pointing out the double standard, and the lengths people are going to push their agenda about this issue.

The fact of the matter is the killer swore allegiance to ISIS before he started shooting people. ISIS is an Islamic Caliphate, which practices a literal and fundamentalist version of Islam, complete with being led by a man who meets the religious criteria for being Caliph. ISIS, like most Islamic countries, decries that the law is gay people must be killed.

Yet I have seen amazing lengths gone to to claim that not only was the killer in question Not acting on his Muslim beliefs (despite his clear declaration), it has everything to do with mental illness (which I might give), to “gun violence,” to “video games,” to homophobia (again, given, but they deny the Islamic connection), and so forth.

The key thing with both the “religions and guns don’t kill people” things here is I believe Halstead is getting self aware, but that awareness is leading towards “since I don’t buy that argument of ‘people kill people, not guns’ then maybe I shouldn’t buy it for religion either.”

The bigger issue though, is that the “denial” is not a refutation of the argument so much as it is a refutation of human agency. To claim that the argument “guns don’t kill people, people kill people” is an illegitimate defense for gun ownership is to literally say “humans have no will of their own, they can only act based on possession by a gun.” Which means that the Gun is the one with the agency, the will to act, and so the gun is what kills.

Even though the gun is an inanimate object with no will or mobility of its own.

A religion is much the same. A religion typically doesn’t have it’s own agency. It just has a form and a function (what is right and wrong, and how to live by what is right). It’s how people apply that religion, human agency, that creates situations of peace or violence.

But let’s see where Halstead goes.

The truth is that there is a strong correlation between violence and religious belief, just as there is a strong correlation between violence and gun ownership.  Of course, this statement leaves out a lot of nuance.  And, also, correlation is not causation.  But I keep coming back to the fact certain European countries seem to be getting along just fine without either guns or religion.

It’s this last part where Halstead’s self awareness leads to an issue. Where he is apparently becoming “self aware” he has failed to become “situationally aware.”

For example, which European countries would he give as an example? I’m going to go over some of the major ones, with my own knowledge of their situation

England: Presently lacking guns, but with a Muslim population which has filled their areas with increased crime, Sharia (religious law) patrols that attack other British citizens for breaking Sharia law, grooming gangs in virtually every major city, fairly radical mosques in every major city, and a rise in anti-Semitic hate crimes against Jewish citizens.

France: Presently lacking in guns, but much like England with Islam. While I’ve not heard of grooming gangs in France as much, I have heard that the anti-Semitic violence has gotten so bad that the entire French Jewish population is working to immigrate en mass to Israel because “it would be safer than staying in France.”

Germany: Presently lacking in guns, but rife with Islam. Presently famous for the mass increase of gang rapes, which was marked by an attempted public coverup exposed via social media. A nation which is vainly attempting to publish guides for incoming Muslim men about how “raping German women is wrong.”

Sweden: Presently without guns, Presently Rape Capital of the World thanks to Islamic immigrants and has been for the last several years.

Many Eastern European countries also lack guns, and are presently building walls to keep out Islamic Immigrants, while also having to find ways to hold off Russian aggression in their areas.

I suppose we could point to say Switzerland with it’s lack of religion doing just fine, but then their government mandates that every single citizen own at least one gun. So…Huh, the most financially prosperous and safest nation in Europe is one where everyone owns a gun. Which, I will point out as historical trivia was one of the reasons they never got invaded by the Germans during WWII.

I could go on, but I think people get the point.

Why am I comfortable assigning blame to guns, but not to religion?  After all, if we’re assigning blame, which deserves more of it: that which enables a person to murder (guns) or that which motivates a person to murder (religion)?   The question made me very uncomfortable.

It has made Halstead uncomfortable because it has forced him to face his own bigotry.

Which, I actually want to give him some genuine applause and praise. Not many people make it to this point of self awareness. Especially not in that Gods & Radicals/Marxist/Lefitst community he hangs out with.

Becoming aware of one’s own “rationalizations” is not always a fun thing. Discovering that you’ve been a hypocrite holding yourself to one standard because you’re “good” while simultaneously condemning someone else for doing the same thing because you consider them “bad” is never fun. Because then you have to decide if you’re a good person, and they’re a good person, or if you’re a bad person because they’re a bad person…and you’re both doing the same thing.

It seems that every mass murder turns into a Rorschach test for political belief.  When we see tragedy, do we think “There’s too many guns” or “If only the victims had had guns”?  Do we blame religion, or a specific religion, or a lack of (the right kind of) religion.  If we blame mental illness, do we say “He was crazy” or do we say “If only he’d gotten the help he needed”?  Do we blame the individual or society?

He’s not wrong.

This is what I was talking about at the start. The base, mean necromancy which people are working. Attempting to make themselves better and their enemies worse using the souls of the dead. I suppose a “Rorschach test” is as good a term as any for what they’re doing.

Although in this case, since we have a clear declaration I’d say the answer to the “test” is fairly obvious, but people do not want to face their bigotry and admit the truth…mainly for fear of being called bigots, ironically enough.

The answers to these questions probably tell us more about ourselves than they do about the actual problem.  I’m a religious gun-control advocate, so naturally, I blame guns.  I have to ask myself, why am I so quick to blame guns?  Is it because I want to distract myself from the role that religion played in this tragedy?

See? What did I just say.

Halstead is quick to blame the guns in this instance because he doesn’t want to blame the religion.

He doesn’t want to blame religion because then he would have to admit that it wasn’t “all religion” that had done this, but one specific religion that did this: Islam.

And he would have to do the one thing that middle and upper class white liberals hate to do: Decry something done/believed in by People of Color as bad. Because then they would be called racists for thinking they were better than “colored” people.

It is very clear that Islam is a homophobic religion whose nations practice the death penalty for that action, which they deem a crime. And that is not the “radical belief” that is the mainstream belief. But to admit that “hey, these people have a backward and violent attitude towards Gay people” is something you should never, ever say, because…RACISM AND BIGOTRY!!!!!!!

Which, so much for speaking “truth to power” or however that saying goes.

And so it goes without saying that people will come up with any excuse what so ever to avoid admitting one of the most fundamental truths about what happened in Orlando. They will excuse any level of bigoted thinking so as to…not engage in “bigoted thinking.”

I have to consider the possibility, as uncomfortable as it makes me, that the world would be better off without religion.  And then perhaps I might have a sense of how some people feel when I suggest that the world would be better off without guns.  Considering this makes it a little harder for me to vilify gun advocates.

Well…at least he can get there.

It’s a close thing. Right in this paragraph Halstead is having to wrestle with the impulse to engage in new bigotry. He cannot, it seems, admit that the religion of Islam is the problem here…so it has to be “All Religion.”

Shinto, Buddhism, Heathenism, Wicca, Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, they’re all no different from Islam. Because to admit there were differences would be to admit that some are better ideologies than others and that Islam is certainly at the bottom of the list at the moment when it comes to “western ideals.” (Ironically, Buddhism would be at the top with our ideals, even though it is Far Eastern). But to admit that Islam has a problem with homophobia (or misogyny, or tolerance, or religious diversity, etc) would be an act of “bigotry.”

So either “All religion is bad” or…gun advocates have as much a legitimate point as he does with religion not being all bad. Which, I’m sure my pride fills him with shame, but I am honestly fucking proud of Halstead getting to this point.

Fucking Hel, never thought I’d say those words.

If you were hoping I would suggest a solution to the problem of gun/religious violence, you’ll be disappointed.  I’m still a religious gun control advocate, but I feel less certain that I have the answers.  In fact, I am more confused than ever now.  But there is a kind of virtue in confusion, I think.  Clarity can be a scary thing sometimes … people who believe that killing others is justified can have a frightening clarity. So I’m embracing my confusion.  I think that Oliver Wendell Holmes was right that there is a simplicity to be found “on the other side of complexity.”  That simplicity has to be earned by working through the complexity, else we fall prey to the same kind dangerous simplicity that mass murders do.

To this point, I pretty much have to say: Bravo.

There are no easy answers. Often enough, the answers have to be earned through hard work. My understanding of Islam and its issues as a religion has come after many years of hard work, not just to learn about it, and to endure learning what its believers do in its name, but even with my own bigotry and biases. But the hard work is generally worth it, because even unpopular truths are worth knowing.

As we work our way through the difficult questions in the following weeks and months, let us beware the simple answers.  And let us embrace the complexity of our problems.  Let us see those we disagree with, not as stereotyped one-dimensional opponents, but as fellow human beings with whom we must work out a way to live.  Then maybe, just maybe, the means will become the ends, and we will just win our way through toward a peaceful and just future.

Well, I’m honestly surprised. I started writing this thinking I was gonna tear Halstead a new one. But in the end…I’m proud of him. He’s not there yet, but he’s at least taken the first step. I hope he keeps on the path.

And this is why I’m willing to engage in these necromancies. Because sometimes, just sometimes…something potentially good comes from it.

Our foes are not one dimensional opponents. Even with my incredible dislike for Islam, I always try to remember this fact. Same with the Marxists (though, I will admit that one is hard because they seem to want to be one dimensional…idk). But really, Halstead, bravo.

I don’t expect you to start buying guns, denouncing Islam, or trying to make America great again, but the next time…remember this. No matter who it is…they’re rarely the one dimensional villains you think they are.


Belona Invicta and Hela Bless

*(whose legitimacy is debated by other Muslims and their governments as much for political reasons as religious ones, since a Legitimate Caliphate would be the only legitimate government to religious Muslims and thus all present states in Islamic nations would have to either dissolve themselves and hand over power to ISIS, remain but swear allegiance to ISIS, or be considered apostates from Islam itself.)