There seems to be a bit of an uproar over on YouTube. In response to the Blasphemy Challenge author David Mills put a video of himself cursing and ripping out pages of the Bible which he used to pick up dog poo. An atheist by the name of KillTrend took offense and put up a video denouncing the act and stating the rest of us ought to do so as well.
I disagree. Burning, destroying and otherwise “disrespecting” a symbol is a longtime tool of rebellion. People burn flags. They blow up statues. They destroy all manner of things from the mythological “bra burning” of the sixties to the burning of effigies of despised political leaders today.
And when it comes to the Bible, there is probably no greater symbol of terrorism, brutality and subjugation on the planet. Why should it be spared from destruction by those who see it this way? I think the various reasons fall apart under closer inspection.
1 . People already have a bad impression of atheists. People always have a bad impression of groups who are opposing them, especially if the opposing group is seen as undermining the self-assigned rights and/or privileges of the groups being opposed. We saw this the Civil Rights movement, with the second wave of feminism and we are currently witnessing it with the equality movement for homosexuals.
This thought is, IMHO, an internalized mind-game. “If I show how nice and respectful I am, someday they’ll treat me nicely and respect me despite our differences”. But, the fact of the matter is that “someday” will never come because the point of this particular mind game is to create a situation where the oppressed group is too ashamed to act in a manner that will ensure that that “someday” arrives.
For example, Martin Luther King Jr was arrested in Birmingham, Alabama in April of 1963 for protesting segregation. While in jail several ministers published a piece condemning his actions and calling for all black people to abstain from the demonstrations. In short, Dr. King and black people were told to “play nice and someday we’ll quit treating you like crap”. Dr. King did not and the demonstrations grew. And here it is, nearly 44 years later and segregation is gone.
2. Destroying Bibles is like blowing up Buddhists statues. No, it’s not. While both involve the destruction of religious symbols, only one is done from the seat of power. The closest thing in America to the destruction of the statues is Mount Rushmore. How so? Mount Rushmore was once known as the Six Grandfathers and was a holy site for the Lakotas. The American government seized it and defaced it with the faces of white men. They might as well have stacked dynamite around it and blown it up.
In short, the defacement of the Six Grandfathers and the destruction of the Buddhists statues were done from seats of power by the ruling group. They were both acts of oppression and designed to subjugate opposing groups. In America, atheists have neither the actual power nor the social standing to oppress or subjugate theists. Comparing the rebellious destruction of the majorities favourite symbol by a member of a despised minority group to similar (in appearance only) acts of the majority is absurd.
3. Destroying symbols doesn’t “prove” anything. This may be true, but destroying a symbol isn’t about “proving” anything. It’s about defiance. Women shave their heads not to prove that popular definitions of what’s “womanly” are wrong, but to defy those popular definitions. The destruction of a woman’s hair by the woman is an act of defiance. So is the destruction of holy book by people demonized by that book.
Such destruction is not be seen in the same light of Christians destroying the Koran in western countries such as America. As with the statues and mountain above, Christian destruction of non-Christian symbols such as the Koran are acts of oppression, not defiance.
4. Atheist Bible destroyers are not unlike Fred Phelps. Wrong. The motivations are quite different and quite important. Destroying a Bible is a defiant act that repudiates the idea that it is special and deserving of respect. Standing on a corner with a sign that says “Gays Die, God Laughs” is an oppressive act that is designed to intimidate homosexuals and showing up at a non-gay persons funeral with a sign that says “God Hates America” is an aggressive act designed to intimidate non-gays from fighting the oppression of homosexuals. The two are only similar in the shock they are capable of producing.
So, in conclusion, it is my honest opinion that the destruction of the Bible by atheists is not similar to the behaviour of majority groups as they relate to the ideas and symbols of minority groups.Ã‚Â The motivations are quite different.Ã‚Â The majority wishes to silence opposition and uses such acts to intimidate.Ã‚Â The minority wishes to be be heard and uses such acts to get the attention of those who will listen.Ã‚Â They are similar in appearance only.