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So a petition went up recently on the 10 Downing Street website, associated with a site called Stop The Nightmares. (You can Google those things if you're looking for it: I was going to post the link, but now that I've thought about it more, I don't want to encourage people to impulse-click.) I feel very strongly about what it's petitioning against: the religious abuse of children by instilling hellfire and damnation teachings into them from an early age, of schools and religious institutions scaring children into accepting their beliefs by telling graphic stories of what kind of torture awaits them if they don't believe. Specifically, they want to instate laws that will forbid this kind of speech in scenarios such as schools and street preaching.

I think hellfire preaching is destructive and horrible, that it harms people (especially children, but I don't think adults are immune) psychologically, and that all of religion, including Christianity, could benefit from dropping the topic of hell. (Even if you believe in it. You want people to worship God because he's wonderful and loving, right, and to dwell on positive thoughts of him, not to only cling to religion out of fear? I know many Christians think believing out of fear of hell isn't good enough; then why not just avoid talking about hell? Either way those who were influenced only by the hell sermons are damned, so why not just spare everyone the trauma?) You don't have to ban religious schools or compromise their teachings to say "don't terrify children. Present this material in an age-appropriate context, or better yet, let children grow up and discover for themselves what the Bible says once they're old enough to be curious." I think that's reasonable to ask. So I signed the petition, because as I said, I do feel strongly about it.

But then I thought, wait. I'm really in favour of people not doing this. But am I in favour of a law against people doing this? Is that really the right way to go? On the one hand, it might serve as a catalyst for social change; if enough people frown upon this socially, then over time the behaviour might become unacceptable, and a law is a fairly good way to make sure that something is frowned upon socially. But on the other, do we really need more legislation? Would this law just be misused and misinterpreted? Will the people who really care about instilling their violent and hateful doctrine into the minds of the next generation just find ways to get around it, leaving only those caught in unfortunate misunderstandings to suffer? And with laws leading to punishment for those who break them, is it really right to bring more punishment into society?

Well, of course, I should have thought about that beforehand. But I suppose a thought provoked is still a better thing to happen late than never. I still don't know what the right option is: it feels wrong to allow people to hurt children this way yet wrong to use legislation to do that, and I think a lot of people do assume that feeling something should not be done is equivalent to supporting laws against it, because it doesn't seem like we have any other methods to keep people from causing harm. But maybe we do. Maybe there are other ways, like government campaigns, getting the message out into communities, making people think about the topic without pushing laws. I don't know, and I think I have to think about it.


( 51hp damage — Attack! )
Jun. 13th, 2008 04:32 pm (UTC)
Given the degree to which the other side of the argument press for (and sometimes win) laws to promote their position, it seems to me only right that there be legislative pushing on this side. I think of it a bit like a seesaw. you need similar weight on both ends, otherwise the "balanced" centre is liable to be somewhat askew.

In academic principle I'm in favour of an age of consent for religion*. In practice I know it's probably impossible to acheive from where we are now.

In a similar way I approve of the general existence of a group like Outrage on LG rights, even though I don't agree with every last word of their agenda, in that it presents a reasonably coherent alternative world view to the "homosexuality is a filthy sin, they can be cured by God" campaigners on the other side of that battle.

* free choice when old enough to make your own mind up, after all any god worthy of the name should be able to recruit followers from the adult population rather than need to be instilled on the very young etc.
Jun. 13th, 2008 10:10 pm (UTC)
Hmmmm. But do we really want to be encouraging conservatives in thinking that legislation is the right way and that even we think so, and/or that if they don't get their laws up fast enough we might beat them to it with our liberal agenda and corrupt the world?
Sans Subjectum, Peon - softfruit - Jun. 14th, 2008 08:58 am (UTC) - Expand
Jun. 13th, 2008 04:48 pm (UTC)
Law Plus?
What we really need is some form of social contract. A code of behaviour towards another which, while not a "law" in that it will involve police, courts, fines, prison etc., nevertheless outlines acceptable vs. unacceptable behaviours.

For example, sexually abusing a child - that is breaking the law. Cops, prison and rightly so. Vile. Murder - the same. Assaulting someone - the same.

Teaching children age four about hell? Sure, but it's ethically wrong and in breach of the social contract which outlines at what age children are allowed to be taught what subjects.

Suggestion for such a social contract:-

AgeSubject one can be taught
4Avoiding selfish behaviour (selfishness is wrong, share and share alike, play nice, be kind)
5Everything has its time, and everything dies. But death is something to look forward to after a happy life: it's what you do with your life that counts.
6People live in communities, and in those communities we know one another and look out for one another, helping out when we can.
7Some people find solace in religion. Among the religions from which we can choose are the following:- (list choices)
16Choose a religion, if you wish. Or learn more about what religions mean to you. It's up to you.

Personally, I feel that religions should not be foisted upon children. They should stay clear of it until they're at least old enough to vote, and to choose for themselves as fully grown adults.

YMMV, of course.
Jun. 13th, 2008 10:07 pm (UTC)
Re: Law Plus?
Personally, I feel that religions should not be foisted upon children. They should stay clear of it until they're at least old enough to vote, and to choose for themselves as fully grown adults.

I agree with this statement. I think it's okay to expose kids to the ideas and cultures of religions when they're little, like a culture festival or something; they can learn about them, but they shouldn't be encouraged to pick one until they're grown up.

It's very much like voting and politics, actually. When I was a little kid, I just wanted to be whatever my mommy and daddy were, because of course they were smart and they were right. Thankfully, no one asked me. Religion could totally be the same way, if people weren't so concerned to make sure their kids follow the "right" path (theirs, of course), and that they can go to heaven like good little angels if an accident happens and they die. (I guess the last bit might be comforting to parents, but it would work better if their theology just allowed for that whether the kids were part of the religion or not.)

[ETA: Holy crap, I chose this icon because of the "not to be used for the other use" keyword, but now that I have posted with it, I realised, oh snap.]

Edited at 2008-06-13 10:09 pm (UTC)
Re: Law Plus? - eclective - Jun. 13th, 2008 10:54 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Law Plus? - seika - Jun. 13th, 2008 11:24 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Law Plus? - eclective - Jun. 13th, 2008 11:35 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Law Plus? - seika - Jun. 14th, 2008 12:24 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: Law Plus? - seika - Jun. 15th, 2008 10:50 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Law Plus? - eclective - Jun. 16th, 2008 12:15 am (UTC) - Expand
Jun. 13th, 2008 06:07 pm (UTC)
Okay, first: my opinions of fire and brimstone as it relates to Protestant theology, let me show you them. My feeling is that it's never really been an effective conversion tool in the mode of REPENT SINNERS, rather the realization that you are as NOTHING before G-d and that sense of awe and humility that's been an essential part of the doctrine since the beginning. I'm kinda of the opinion you can't just throw it out.

Which isn't to say I'm in favor of spouting Jonathan Edwards to children all willy-nilly. But I see thee comments that are like-- I don't think any religion should be forced upon a child!-- and it's not that simple. If you practice a faith, then you're probably going to want to share that with your kid, and it's... kind of impossible not to? If you can't practice your religion in the privacy of your own home, where can you practice it? I think people should be free to choose their own creeds or lack thereof, but it's pretty much expected for parents to (try to) instill their own moral principles in their kids. That's sort of what parenting is. It's like saying that homosexuals shouldn't raise kids, because then kids will learn about homosexuality before they're 13 or something.

Furthermore I think we're not giving kids enough credit. There are plenty of people who were raised religious who aren't, and vice versa. I know I don't believe what my parents do. A lot of four year olds have messed up outlooks on the world, but I don't think there should be laws policing them.
Jun. 13th, 2008 10:40 pm (UTC)
Again, hmm, I'm personally trying to draw a big distinction here between raising your kid religious and telling a four-year-old "if you're not a good little girl/boy, you'll go to a place where they torture you eternally" over and over again. The former is a complex issue, and I do personally believe that a) we can separate moral principles from religion when teaching children (i.e. one can say "don't hurt other people, it's wrong" without saying "if you hurt other people you'll go to hell" - shouldn't we be teaching why it's wrong, as in, it takes away the happiness of others, reduces their life quality, etc., rather than simply threatening a punishment and making it all about costs and benefits, all about a person's selfish desire to avoid pain and gain gratification?), and b) one can practice one's own religion in one's home without saying to a child "you must be X", but that's not so much my issue. But I have a lot less of a problem with parents teaching their children to be religious than parents putting so much emphasis on the fire and the brimstone that children suffer from nightmares and horrible existential fears. (A lot of children may not inherit the religion of their parents, true, but a lot of them who were subjected to extremely heavy-handed religious views also take a long time getting over it and do suffer emotionally, even if they eventually learn to choose their own path. Again, it's not the religion but the way it's taught.) I think there's a line at which we can call it intimidation and cruelty. Whether we should police it is still another matter altogether, but I am uncomfortable with it personally (which is not a justification for laws, again).

As for instilling a sense of awe and humility, hm, can't that be done through a lot of more positive means, though? Just the idea that, say, you're this tiny human on a massive planet, look at the size of the solar system, look at the size of the universe, look at how fragile you are physically, how often you think selfish things or hurtful things, etc., but God still loves you personally. Isn't that idea just as awe-instilling and humbling? Same with a mountain vista or a sunset, the experience of the sublime - the vastness of nature that impresses on us how impossibly small we are. Account that to God and you have plenty of humility there. (Besides, do little kids really appreciate awe and humility? Or do they just think "it's going to hurt, I'm scared"?)
Sans Subjectum, Peon - seika - Jun. 13th, 2008 11:20 pm (UTC) - Expand
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Sans Subjectum, Peon - eclective - Jun. 14th, 2008 04:36 pm (UTC) - Expand
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Jun. 13th, 2008 06:50 pm (UTC)
you don't
understand the
meaning of freedom.

Freedom means nothing if parents are not allowed to instill their children with the values they believe (whether those values are religious or communist or liberal). Stop dictating to your neighbors what they can or cannot teach. ----- If I sound angry, well, it's because I am. I don't want somebody telling ME what I'm allowed to teach in MY household. That is NONE of your business.

BTW I'm not even a religious person.
I'm an Atheist.

But I still support religious freedom. As Thomas Jefferson wisely stated, "Whether my neighbors worship one god, many gods, or no gods, matters not to me. Their actions do not harm my person, my property, nor my rights. I can not justly interfere with their liberties."

Jun. 13th, 2008 08:01 pm (UTC)
Your ideas are predicated on the idea that children are the property of their parents, which is an idea that I find not just distasteful, but deeply wrong. Someone having freedom to worship as they please is far from the same thing as having the freedom to do with their children as they will.
Sans Subjectum, Peon - electrictroy999 - Jun. 13th, 2008 09:28 pm (UTC) - Expand
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50th comment, sorry. - luinied - Jun. 17th, 2008 03:20 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: 50th comment, sorry. - kawakiisakazuki - Jun. 18th, 2008 09:21 pm (UTC) - Expand
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Jun. 13th, 2008 08:34 pm (UTC)
First, I'd like to say that it's very nice to know that you think about the distinction between being seriously against anyone doing something and supporting a law against that thing, because a lot of people don't. And, while it is quite scary when people do this in my own country, I can always hold on to the fact that we have some - maybe not as many as we should - protections against this sort of thing written into our constitution, and while said constitution may be railroaded over for a while and the courts may be stuffed with "strict constructionist" judges, most of the exceedingly troubling (in these ways, anyway) laws will run afoul with the Bill of Rights eventually. It's scarier when I think about this happening elsewhere, where such protections may not exist, which, as far as I know, is the case in the UK.

(And yes, it is still scary when the laws in question are from people "on my side", because I see such things as establishing precedent on which sorts of personal matters are open to state interference. So I naturally think about how this precedent will be abused the next time the people whose beliefs are furthest from mine are in power.)

As to how to address this specific problem... I honestly don't know. The goal, I think, should be for fire-and-brimstone-style preaching to be seen everywhere as the relic that it is, so that even if someone preaches that way, the preached to will be able to readily learn that this is just a silly old way of viewing things. Maybe someone with more religious inclinations and a better knowledge of how to influence large groups of people will have more to say on exactly how to get there.

I'm not going to rule out laws entirely as a tool here - for example, it doesn't seem immediately problematic for the state to set standards for religious schools, and laws against psychological abuse of children should already apply to the worst scare tactics - but their use has to be limited. In a case of "we don't want to expel these fanatics from our country and forbid their beliefs because we're not totalitarians, but we do want to stop them from doing some bad thing", which this is, the ability to effectively prevent said thing from being done needs to exceed the "Well, the Satanists got to parliament, but we shall persevere in the name of the LORD!" morale boost that said fanatics will enjoy in order for the law to actually make any progress. And in this instance that seems like a difficult thing to achieve, as you've kind of noted.
Jun. 13th, 2008 08:47 pm (UTC)
Oh, and a thing I was going to mention but forgot: I also think it's very important to remember the difference between being against something and being for a law against it because I've seen far too much of "either you want to ban foo or you should just keep your mouth shut about it", as used in either direction and most frustratingly sometimes used by people on themselves. And not only is that totally a false dichotomy, but it ignores the fact that the range between silence and calling for a ban contains some very useful levels of social pressure that it's extremely appropriate to use against in situations like this.

The most frustrating example of this I've seen would be relatively mainstream liberal-leaning Christians from the Midwest, who in private will express their disgust with the religious right but would never dare to go beyond private murmurings of discontent. But perhaps this is only the most frustrating to me because of how often I've seen it happen.
Sans Subjectum, Peon - electrictroy999 - Jun. 13th, 2008 09:26 pm (UTC) - Expand
Sans Subjectum, Peon - eclective - Jun. 13th, 2008 10:43 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jun. 15th, 2008 12:41 am (UTC)
(I'm not actually angry, but the "hellfire" topic seemed to make this icon appropriate)

Let me start off by saying that I am a huge anarchist. I find laws in and of themselves offensive; while I understand that we need them to keep people from running around and killing each other, I find the necessity of laws in and of itself to be tragic, and I believe that laws are much like guns; the very presence of laws necessitates their use. Laws are also sort of self-fulfilling prophecies: if you make a law that says x_person will be put to death in x_manner for committing x_crime, people will die in the manner prescribed. Laws that suggest a course of action, cause that action, whether fair or unfair. In that way, once laws are made, they are uncontrollable because they become inescapable Standard Procedure. That is frustrating to me; it leaves no room for personal choice and conscience, only a mechanical following of principle. I do not like the idea that my fate, or that of anyone else's, could ever be determined by what is essentially an unfeeling program. Compassion (and anger), I believe, unfair and irrational as they can be, keep us from distancing ourselves from our actions towards other people. Laws that give us the power to hurt or subvert the rights of other people, no matter the reason, let us tell ourselves "we're just following the rules, can't blame us for their pain." I think that makes for a lot of very callous people, and that's a horrible side-effect of laws.

With that out of the way, as I said, I realize that we need laws to maintain some semblance of peace. Whether you want to say it's because humans are violent animals at their core and will be cruel and irresponsible when left to their own devices, or that the only way to educate humans to a point they aren't so savage is to maintain structure, either way it doesn't matter; it's pretty clear that's just the way our society works. So if you want any precedent to be set, you have to do one of two things:

1. make it popular
2. make it law

Making something popular is my preferred way of getting things done, as far as social precedents go...there's no preordained punishment that MUST be inflicted if someone violates the directive, but violators will feel the pressure from their peers...pushing in front of someone in line may not be illegal, but it sure as hell is really freaking rude, and if you do it a lot, eventually people around you are going to start telling you, "hey jackass, stop that, no one likes it and they'll stop liking you if you keep acting that way." Most people care about being liked, and when threatened with ostracizing, whether private or public, they will stop an annoying behavior. By then behaving in a way that does make friends, they elevate their social status and feel accepted. So this way of setting precedents is better, in my opinion, because it is more effective and less destructive, and often times everyone gets at least some of what they want--it's a compromise, certainly, because it will lead to certain people feeling irritated that the way they want to act is frowned upon, but at least no one can arrest them for it, so technically they're still free to do it, and it puts the decision NOT to do it in their own hands, so it's self-empowering.

Edited at 2008-06-15 03:41 am (UTC)
Jun. 15th, 2008 12:42 am (UTC)
But if you absolutely cannot make something popular, your only recourse is to make it law. This option is not as good because of the conflict it causes; it makes the issue much more black-and-white, it makes crime and punishment, and in the end, the violator is always punished, whether they've decided to change their behavior or not. It takes away from the people the ability to choose for themselves the "correct" action; if you do it even once, there is a predetermined counteraction that will be taken, completely removing the power to choose and change out of the individual's hands. The violator ends up feeling picked on, unfairly judged, powerless, fearful, and his opinion on his or her actions is not in the least bit changed. The people who didn't like your behavior get satisfaction out of seeing you publicly punished--which I think is wrong and encourages maliciousness--and get a stronger sense of "good thing I'm on the powerful side," which encourages arrogance. In the end, even though the precedent you've set might be one of good behavior, if it's law, there is no good way of enforcing it...because the moment you enforce anything, you create discontent and conflict.

The most immediate and obvious example of these two methods I can think of is the whole situation between media pirates and copyright holders; RIAA & MPAA vs The Internet, novel authors vs fanfiction writers...so on and so forth. These are situations where law directly conflicts with the social state of the worldwide population; people are more communicative now than they ever have been, technology has made the exchange of ideas incredibly fast and efficient, and it has become amazingly popular for everyone to share their experiences through media--copyrighted or not. We've already gotten used to being able to share, and we don't want that freedom taken away, so even though the copyright holders have the power of law (and usually, money) on their side, "piracy" continues to be a rampant "problem," and most people will tell you it doesn't bother them one bit. Social persuasion dominates law in this situation; even the president's daughter has an iPod, and do you really think she buys every single one of the songs on it? The IPs of high-level Google execs have been logged on Pirate Bay...no one, no tier of society, high or low, is unaffected by the intense desire to share and search and acquire media. It's become an Internet-wide obsession to which very few people are immune, and even many people who sue for copyright infringement are likely perpetrators of the very same crime they're suing over.

Edited at 2008-06-15 12:42 am (UTC)
Jun. 15th, 2008 12:43 am (UTC)
Now assume, instead of media sharing, the behavior in question is fire-and-brimstone preaching. It's all the rage, people like the control it gives them over the type of person their children become, it makes them more obedient, it makes them easier to convince and teach and get to pay attention. Why would they want to give up something that, as far as they're concerned, works so well and gives them so much power and so much choice?

Of course, to you and I, the above paragraph outlines a horrible scenario of exploitation, if not outright abuse. At the very very least, it's in poor taste. We want to convince these people that what they're doing is wrong and that there are better ways. Our most immediate inclination is to use whatever power available to us to do so, to stop them, to make life better for these children and the world.

It's very tempting to reach for the legal pen. Laws are very powerful...they are also very immediate, and you see results in literally hours once the laws go into effect. But it's very important to remember how laws work and what they can and cannot do.

They can stop a bad behavior immediately. But what they cannot do is convince the violators that what they were doing was wrong.

On top of that, laws can be fought, and the people who don't like them will fight them. They will tie up hundreds of millions of [insert currency here] in legal battles, money that could be being spent elsewhere, and if those laws are successfully repealed, it can often be extremely difficult to get them reinstated.

So let's take a hint from our friends The Copyright Holders and their predicament; the law is on their side, but Nobody Likes Them. "Hostile takeover" by making laws paints the lawmakers as Big Mean Bullies. No one likes a bully.
Jun. 15th, 2008 12:43 am (UTC)
So, the better way of encouraging change is, in my opinion and without a doubt, social persuasion. Now, this is a much longer and can be a very tedious process, and when you're talking about changing a behavior that has been instilled in a person since childhood, it can be very hard and cause a lot of upset in and resistance from the person being changed. I'm saying this as someone who grew up firmly believing in the Christian God and Hell...I was lucky enough to have an agnostic father who, above all, taught me critical thinking, and that allowed me to analyze the religious nonsense my mother had taught me and eventually renounce it--but it was very hard for me to do so, and took several years. I can only imagine how hard it would be for someone who had two religious parents and was surrounded by religious people who all said the same thing and acted the same way.

But one thing that is true of most everyone is that people are inquisitive; pique their interest and they'll investigate. There are non-confrontational ways to offer alternative ways of thinking...casual conversation, group activities in which a certain behavior is introduced en masse that the individual might not otherwise do. Open access to literature. Seeing is often believing: watching other people behave a certain way en masse and without punishment or negative side-effects, and enjoy themselves in the process, is a fantastic way to persuade someone that the behavior is okay. If you show someone that no, God isn't going to strike you down if you say "damn it," and no, God isn't going to punish Other People when they do "bad" things, if you want change you should take action to affect that change, pro-action over reaction, kindness over condemnation, curiosity over fear...if you can demonstrate to a person or group that these alternative ways of thinking lead to a happier, more enlightened and empowering life, then yes, you can change them.

It isn't easy, and it takes time. Most strict religious or political stances come with a built-in "we're the speshul few who can see the Truth beyond the obvious evidence to the contrary, don't believe all those stupid people who aren't speshul enough to see it, too!"...a.k.a. Faith. Dogma relies heavily on it, and jeez louise is it hard to get past, because its primary promise is that "you are speshul for believing in this," which elevates the believer onto a pedestal they won't want to come down from. Everyone wants to be speshul. Why give it up when doing so makes you "wrong"?

The only way to get someone to give up that pedestal is to offer them one that's just as high or higher...the hard part is not making the replacement pedestal one of equal arrogance. Self-empowerment through altruism, empathy, and compassion is the key element that needs to be offered and stressed, rather than simply power or importance over others; there are atheists that are just as rude and stuck-up and abusive as the religious nuts they hate. It's a change in behavior, not dogma, that needs to be encouraged and demonstrated in a positive and consistent manner.

So social persuasion is as much an art as a science, and isn't precise by any means. But it can be accomplished, and the point of this whole rambling multi-post reply is that any way you slice it, it's less destructive and more empowering than lawmaking.

Edited at 2008-06-15 01:25 am (UTC)
Jun. 15th, 2008 01:16 am (UTC)
(apologies for all the edits in your inbox, as well)
Jun. 15th, 2008 12:52 pm (UTC)
No problem. This was a very well-thought-out response and one I do feel I agree with on many points; I'm not sure where to begin responding to it, but it was very much appreciated. I think what you've said comes out close to what I feel about it, ultimately, though I'm still working out my own thoughts on the matter.
Jun. 15th, 2008 02:47 am (UTC)
Forgive (or thank) this short post.

Question first: What kind of precedence would this create?
Question the second: Is teaching kids religion at a young age the harmful thing? Or is it those same kids not bothering to question anything later in life?

The first is somewhat self explanitory - irregardless of where you stand on an issue, making it illegal to talk about something is very, very bad.

The second is slightly more interesting. Does teaching religion, irregardless of how it's taught, permanently change the attitudes and thinking habits of children? There's clear precedence it doesn't. Again, I would state that the issue with religion is not that it is taught to children, but that those children never bother reading their own holy book when they grow older.

Let's get this out of the way now: Making this an "us vs them" argument does absolutely nothing to strengthen either side, and in fact devolves it into the somewhat ironic childish bickering. Furthermore, one cannot make any faith or the teachings of it illegal and hope to succeed, unless the religion in question is a very small cult. It is very easy to say "They started it, we should do the same back!" but, well, what does that make us? How effective then is the argument from this corner?

To that end comes the issue: is there a concrete problem in religious buildings or people on the street teaching the "hell and brimfire" thing to kids? First and foremost, the second is right out, because those crazy street guys are good for a chuckle at best. I can't see any kid taking them seriously. But the second question goes into two parts. One, is the teaching harmful to kids in the first place, and two, should it be allowed?

To one, I would argue that hell and brimfire preachings are no more harmful to children then anything else they see in the world. Children will always be imaginative. It's easy to say that this will give them nightmares, but these are kids we're talking about - quite frankly, they're going to have nightmares about something ANYWAYS. Now, obviously, very EXTREME indoctrination would be a problem, but such cases typically have little to do with religion and more to do with a breach in simple human rights. And as I stated earlier, I would strongly argue that these teachings do not neccisarily permanently affect children later in life, as these kids could easily question things SHOULD THEY DESIRE IT. That last bit is the important one.

The the second, I can only give a complete "No." It is not our decision to tell a religious organization, affiliation, or what have you, what their religion can and cannot have. It would seem easy enough to know that, were said legal approches used against someone else, or against your friends, or against yourself, that you would have issues with it. But even if it ALREADY HAS been used like this, doing it back isn't the answer. Because at that point you aren't fighting against them, you're fighting with them - you're just on a different side. If you think hellfire and brimstone preaching is a problem, the solution isn't to try and BAN it, beccause what you ban today will be banning you tomorrow (Quite literally; I believe that's exactly what's happened once or twice now with Christianity).

Whew, not quite as short as I thought.
Jun. 16th, 2008 08:45 pm (UTC)
I think I was four years old when I was told the graphic story of the guy being nailed to a tree until he died. I also remember being punished for being overheard telling my AU fanfic version on the playground afterwards... I would certainly have preferred *not* being exposed to all that.

There is a certain juvenile attraction to the idea of throwing "think of the children" right back into the faces of certain religiously-inspired activists, a bit like John Dentinger ripping pages of obscene material out of a bible in front of MacKinnon and the LA Ordinance hearing. But I see two major problems with it. The first is that (as luna_manar explained so eloquently) legislating what people are allowed to express is odious and to be resisted at all cost, and undesirable content is much better fought by creating more quality content that drowns out the bad. In other words, tell children that hell is a made-up story to control them through fear if that's what you believe. Show them the awe and joy to be found outside of religious doctrines. Mention it often and say it loudly. Make stories and comics and movies and videogames about it (and watch the religious try to censor you and consign you to hell, of course). Which brings me to the second problem, that such a law wouldn't actually help to change the minds of people whose minds could do with changing, because religious people tend to cling to this unfortunate superstition that their own filth is somehow inherently different from other people's filth and deserving of special consideration, including the right to inflict it on children.

What I would be more in favor of is a petition to repeal any laws that claim to "protect" children from non-religious content through censorship. From an anarchist perspective, the less laws, the better.
( 51hp damage — Attack! )


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