Indian Stupid Burns Like a Hyderabadi Biryani

First, the Telegraph has a
story
about an Indian nun’s book about sex in the church:

The book by the former nun reveals how as a young novice she was propositioned in the confession box by a priest who cited biblical references to “divine kisses”. Later she was cornered by a lesbian nun at a college where they were teaching. “She would come to my bed in the night and do lewd acts and I could not stop her,” she claims.

When she was sent to Bangalore to stay with a priest known for his piety, he lectured her about the need for “physical love” and later assaulted her.

To steal a line from
Monty Python,
“may I take this opportunity of emphasizing that there is no sex in the Catholic Church. Absolutely none, and when I say none, I mean there is a certain amount, more than we are prepared to admit”.

The article concludes with a spokesman who dismisses the nun’s claims:

“How far what she says is well-founded I
can’t say, but the issues are not very serious. We’re living with
human beings in a community and she should realise this is part of
human life
,” he told the Daily Telegraph.

(emphasis added.)

Oh, the irony! If the Catholic church would only realize that yes, sex
is part of human life, and would allow its priests and nuns to get
laid every once in a while, maybe there’d be less of this sort of
thing, to say nothing of child abuse.

(Cue BillDo in 3… 2… 1…)


The second item concerns an
op-ed piece
that appeared in
The Statesman in India.

The piece by Johann Hari argues that while people deserve respect,
ideas don’t. And that a recent UN resolution to avoid criticizing
religion has the effect of shielding human-rights abusers.

He and his editor have since been
arrested
for “hurting the religious feelings” of Muslims. You can’t make this
stuff up.

The Statesman’s
letters page
includes a letter entitled “Denigrating Islam”. Among other things, it
replies to Hari’s original contention that

I don’t respect the idea that we should follow a
“Prophet” who at the age of 53 had sex with a nine-year old girl, and
ordered the murder of whole villages of Jews because they wouldn’t
follow him.

with

Hari has made some vulgar remarks about the marriage of the Prophet with young Aisha, which incensed and hurt many readers of The Statesman. Muslims regard the pious wives of the Prophet as their mothers and hold them in high esteem.

Aisha, was not 9 but 10 years of age when she was married to the
Prophet, but came to live with the Prophet much later. It was after
attaining puberty when she was more than 15 years of age. Following
the Arab custom at that time, her father Abu Bakr, the first caliph of
Islam, proposed this marriage to cement his close relationship with
the Prophet.

Oh, so instead of a 53-year-old man fucking a 9-year-old, it was
actually a 58-year-old fucking a 15-year-old. I guess that’s supposed
to make it all right.

I’ve heard Christian apologists make similar excuses for the Old
Testament atrocities (e.g., by saying that Leviticus sets rules on
what you can and can’t do to a slave; which presumably makes it okay
to own human beings as chattel). I’m sure the fact that their Muslim
counterparts use similar arguments says something profound about the
ecumenical brotherhood of man or something. I can’t help imagining a
crowd of Christian and Muslim fanatics hand in hand with torches and
rakes, singing Kumbaya while marching to punish the heretics who would
disrespect their imaginary BFFs.

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4 Responses to Indian Stupid Burns Like a Hyderabadi Biryani

  1. Calli Arcale says:

    Well, in defense of Muslims, it is a little silly that some people hold a grudge against them because Mohammed was a man of his times. It also doesn’t mean it’s ridiculous to follow Mohammed. A lot of very respected people with a tremendous amount of influence on modern life did things which would horrify modern people. Consider Thomas Jefferson, who not only had slaves but carried on adulterous relationships with them. Very naughty by modern standards, yet we still think it’s okay to follow the Constitution that he helped write. IOW, just because he wasn’t a man of the 21st Century does not mean he didn’t have any ideas worth listening to.

    Thing is, while I don’t care much for moral relativism, it is true that cultural mores change over time. What is abhorrent today was not necessarily considered evil in the past. And as much as religious fundamentalists like to claim otherwise, morals are not universal absolutes but are in fact as much a human creation as language is. They’re the foundation of our societies, and it is imperative that we all agree on them (so that the social contract works), but there is no absolute “it must be this way for a society to function”. Rather, “it must be this way for this particular society to function.”

    Like

  2. arensb says:

    Calli Arcale:
    You’re right that mores evolve, and that we shouldn’t judge everything a person does by one aspect of that person (that would be either an ad hominem, or poisoning the well, I think).

    However, the Statesman letter-writer is using a common technique that might be described as “you’re wrong in the details, therefore you’re wrong about the big picture.” The fact that Aisa was 10, not 9, when Mohammed married her, does not change the fact that she was young enough to be his granddaughter. In other words, the letter-writer is dismissing Hari’s argument for getting the details wrong, rather than being irrelevant.

    The rest of his argument does give a nod in the direction of what you say: that mores change over time, so we shouldn’t judge Mohammed’s actions by modern standards, but it seems like an afterthought.

    And as much as religious fundamentalists like to claim otherwise, morals are not universal absolutes but are in fact as much a human creation as language is.

    Which means that one can’t argue both that morals are static and absolute, and that people who lived long ago shouldn’t be judged by moral standards.

    Hm. That raises a related question: how is time different from space? How is “Thomas Jefferson owned people as chattel, but that was a different time” different from “So and so in Western Oppresivistan owns people as chattel, but that’s a different country”? Is it that people in foreign countries can be expected to know what modern (and allegedly better) alternatives exist, whereas people in the past couldn’t?

    Like

  3. Fez says:

    arensb said:

    That raises a related question: how is time different from space? How is “Thomas Jefferson owned people as chattel, but that was a different time” different from “So and so in Western Oppresivistan owns people as chattel, but that’s a different country”? Is it that people in foreign countries can be expected to know what modern (and allegedly better) alternatives exist, whereas people in the past couldn’t?

    Depends on your definitions (but you knew I was going to say that😉 ). If you choose to define distance via information flow then the children of your next door neighbor who were home-schooled in a most extreme religious fundamentalist fashion might very well be “more distant” to you than someone in a New Guinea cargo cult.

    Like

  4. arensb says:

    Fez:
    Yeah, I think that might work. When looking at, say, the condition of women as second-class citizens in Jefferson’s America, you have to ask how hard it would have been for them to come up with the notion of a country where men and women are equal. When looking at Saudi Arabia, on the other hand, they already have the example of North America and western Europe, so you have to ask why they’re not doing what those guys have successfully implemented.

    Of course, in 21st century America, it’s easy to imagine equality between men and women, and compare that to reality, and identify lingering sexism.

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