Religious organisations should learn what respect looks like in a secular society
Tauriq Moosa is a tutor in ethics, bioethics and critical thinking at the University of Cape Town, South Africa. He is currently pursuing a Masters degree at the Centre for Applied Ethics, Stellenbosch University. He has published essays and articles on practical ethics, focusing on subjects like free expression, killing, sex, and religion in public life. He debated religion with Archbishop Desmond Tutu in the BBC documentary, the Tutu Talks, and has been featured on local radio shows. He is also an avid comic book writer and reader.
If you wish to contact him, please click here.
South Africa's best satirical cartoonist, Jonathan Shapiro (AKA Zapiro), is in hot water for depicting the Hindu god Ganesh in a cartoon. As usual, those who worship said god are demanding respect for religious beliefs (presumably their beliefs, not all religious beliefs).
Just consider the phrasing: The cartoon, according Hindu organisations, shows "flagrant disrespect and denigration of our glorious Hindu faith".
As you can see here, they're the ones who consider their religion worthy of respect; they're the ones who consider it "glorious". The beauty of a secular society is that not only are religious people of multiple faiths allowed to have their faiths, but that Zapiro and anyone else is welcome to not have any; it is not required of us as non-Hindus (let alone non-believers) to respect Hinduism or any of the religions. Further, we should always be suspicious of those who "demand" respect; like adoration, respect isn't something that can be pumped out of your opponents.
Most importantly, concepts aren't phenomena that can - let alone are worthy of - respect. By definition, concepts - as human-made things - are there to be assessed from multiple angles or discarded as need be, as with almost anything. We are right to be suspicious of those who claim to have infallible beliefs or ideas, since it means improvement is not necessary and dissension is unwelcome. If an idea or belief is so perfect, it should be able to withstand all critiques and mockery thrown at it. That we want apologies for depicting concepts in a certain way is indicative of shakily held beliefs, not ones we're comfortable with.
Consider: If someone mocks the idea of equality of the sexes or equality of the races, would we want an apology? Would we demand the sexist "respect our belief" that women don't deserve prejudice because of their sex? Would we demand the racist "respect our belief" that black people aren't lesser than other races? Presumably, we'd either laugh off the childish, unfounded basis of the bigot's mockery or shrug it off, knowing they have no facts to back it up.
That is the adult thing to do. We don't need to show our conviction or our passion for how much we believe in equality of the sexes or races by silencing those who disagree; what matters more than passion is that our ideas are justified, have evidence, etc., which isn't aligned to passion. All the passion in the world doesn't change facts about it. This strutting of sensitivity from those with such fragile beliefs only does the believers a disservice, not their opponents.
Indeed, if Zapiro apologises, removes the post and so on, Hindu organisations would have less - not more - respect from us non-Hindus. And here, respect is rightly placed: at the people themselves, not the beliefs.
Respect me enough to tell me my ideas are bad, because you care about wanting me to have the best kind of ideas and views and beliefs. It seems patronising to think people of faith can't handle criticism or be treated like adults, yet organisations that claim to speak for them are demonstrating just that with such childish demands of respect. We're treating them like fellow, adult citizens by subjecting their ideas to mockery, satire and criticism just as I'd hope they do for me. That is what respect looks like.
Header image: Boberger / WikiCommons (source)
You can see Zapiro's cartoon and context here (link)
Giving our solar system a "slap in the face"
- A stream of galactic debris is hurtling at us, pulling dark matter along with it
- It's traveling so quickly it's been described as a hurricane of dark matter
- Scientists are excited to set their particle detectors at the onslffaught
Bernardo Kastrup proposes a new ontology he calls “idealism” built on panpsychism, the idea that everything in the universe contains consciousness. He solves problems with this philosophy by adding a new suggestion: The universal mind has dissociative identity disorder.
There’s a reason they call it the “hard problem.” Consciousness: Where is it? What is it? No one single perspective seems to be able to answer all the questions we have about consciousness. Now Bernardo Kastrup thinks he’s found one. He calls his ontology idealism, and according to idealism, all of us and all we perceive are manifestations of something very much like a cosmic-scale dissociative identity disorder (DID). He suggests there’s an all-encompassing universe-wide consciousness, it has multiple personalities, and we’re them.
Once again, our circadian rhythm points the way.
- Seven individuals were locked inside a windowless, internetless room for 37 days.
- While at rest, they burned 130 more calories at 5 p.m. than at 5 a.m.
- Morning time again shown not to be the best time to eat.
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.