Thursday, August 07, 2008

Picketing Funerals ... Again?

So Freddy Phelps and his little cult are at it again, threatening to picket a funeral. In this case it's the funeral of the Tim McLean Jr, the man who was recently beheaded by a lunatic on a bus in Winnipeg.

I didn't think McLean was gay. I can't find any information to suggest this and I only wonder about it because protesting gay funerals is Phelps' stock in trade.

On the one hand this is probably getting close to the kind of hate speech that Canada's hate speech laws were meant to prevent. Additionally, it's just bloody classless to picket some guy's funeral.

On the other hand, there's freedom of speech. When this group of religious whackjobs came to Canada in 1999 with their "Queer Canada" signs, I supported their freedom of speech. The one thing they could certainly accomplish was to make both their religion look stupid and the gay rights movement look good. That's the best part of free speech: if your opponents are ignorant, hateful bigots, then getting them out in the open where we can point and laugh is the best medicine.

But it's a funeral and that's just morally wrong. People should be allowed their grief in solemnity, whatever their beliefs about life and death.

On another note, this serves to showcase how bad religion can be. Sure, a lot of people will tell you how great their faith is. It makes them happy, it makes them write songs and draw pictures and forces them to behave morally. Great. But everything that varies seems to come with a normal curve. On one side are varying degrees of commitment, from the Muslim who eats pork anyway to the Christian who spends all Sunday at his church. But at the extremes of that normal curve, at the extremes of the philosophy of surrendering your moral centre to a dogma, will come the people who picket funerals, slam planes in to buildings, burn witches and use meditation to (fail to) heal cancers.

Belief without evidence is dangerous. Not for everybody and not instantly, but eventually unquestioning, dogmatic adherence to the instructions of others will create a breeding ground for the jerks, terrorists and other destructive peoples of the world.

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