Thursday, January 7, 2010

Free speech versus lion food

Once again, we have another instance of some Christians acting like they're being fed to the lions just because people are criticizing what they say. The current hoopla is over Fox commentator Brit Hume's comment regarding Tiger Woods:
Tiger Woods will recover as a golfer. Whether he can recover as a person, I think, is a very open question… the extent to which he can recover, it seems to me, depends on his faith. He’s said to be a Buddhist, I don’t think that faith offers the kind of forgiveness and redemption that is offered by the Christian faith. So, my message to Tiger would be: "Tiger, turn to the Christian faith, and you can make a total recovery and be a great example to the world."
Naturally, a lot of people are criticizing him for saying it, and as a result, you'd think that they were preparing to toss Hume into the arena. As usual with these kinds of things, the important points are not being addressed.

For starters, I just want to get out of the way that I don't care about the whole Tiger Woods incident one way or another. If the story wasn't so ubiquitous, I wouldn't even have known about it. However, it's pretty hard to miss. I didn't take any interest at all until this whole thing happened.

I want to make it clear that I really don't believe that Hume shouldn't be allowed to say those sorts of things. From what I understand, it seemed a little non-sequitur given the context of the show, but hey, if that's what he feels when asked a question about Tiger Woods, then he should have every right to say it. This, however, does not mean that he gets to be free from people reacting to it. Again, this is the thing that so many people just don't get about the way our country works. You are free to say nonsense, and I am free to call it nonsense.

I'll get to the nonsense of his statement, but first I think that I'll call nonsense on some folks who are on my side. Apparently Keith Olbermann had this to say:
This crosses that principle [of keeping] religious advocacy out of public life, since, you know, the worst examples of that are jihadists, not to mention, you know, guys who don’t know their own religions or somebody else’s religion, like Brit Hume.
In a similar vein, Dan Savage had this to say:
Whenever we have a discussion in our country about jihadism and radical Muslims, you always hear, ‘where are the moderate voices? Where are the moderate Muslims? Why don’t they speak up?’ Where are the moderate Liberal Progressive Christians when something like this happens?… American Christianity’s been hijacked by the lunatics [including] people like Brit Hume.
That's laying it on a bit thick, don't you think? Comparisons to radical Muslim terrorists should only be used with extreme circumstances like those who blow up abortion clinics. This really isn't the right sort of analogy you want to go with here, and all it does is fire up people like Adam Baldwin who whines about secularism in his blog. Of course, Baldwin also has every right to say what he wants, but I wish that people on my side wouldn't give him such easy-to-refute soundbites like that.

Anyway, let's get to the real meat of the issue here. What, if anything, is wrong with what Brit Hume said? For starters, he's essentially insulting a religious faith, and no doubt he would get mad if somebody said some other religion offered something better than Christianity did. While I don't know for sure, I somehow doubt that Hume exhaustively researched Buddhism before making his statement. If he did, he'd know that at least as far as changing one's bad behaviors go, Buddhism offers a system that's as good - if not better - than Christianity. Essentially the core of Buddhist belief is letting go of all your worldly wants. Surely sleeping around with women who aren't your wife would count as a result of giving into that sort of a thing.

Beyond that, it just demonstrates an overall blindness to reality. How many professed Christians have committed adultery? Is there any statistic that Christians are less likely to do that sort of a thing than any other religion? I'd be interested in reading it, but I'd also be shocked considering that their divorce rates are as bad as everybody else's.

Sure, only Christianity is going to offer forgiveness from God - but this is only a problem if you believe that the Christian God exists in the first place. I really don't worry too much about whether Jesus forgives me any more than I worry whether Superman likes what shoes I wear. I reckon that Tiger Woods doesn't care too much either about that sort of a thing.

And of course, we could also get into the issue as to whether there's any legitimacy to the claims of Christianity one way or another - or any religion for that matter. I don't cheat on my wife. Is it because I'm afraid that I'll upset Richard Dawkins? Must be...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

nice post. thanks.