Updated: 5 days ago
Well, it’s Friday, folks. T minus eleven hours until I can crack a fresh one and shut my brain off. I’m struggling today, folks. I really am. Sleep… she avoids me like I’m Ramsay Bolton and she’s a Brienne-less Sansa Stark.
But I digress, I did not come here to trigger any of you with images of Sansa’s loveless marriage. I came here to talk about people who insist I should just let others believe whatever the hell they want to believe.
The sentiment, at first glance, seems reasonable enough, and yes, I would absolutely love nothing more than to just let people believe what they want to believe. With a moment’s thought, though, it simply doesn’t work.
The unfortunate truth here is that beliefs inform actions. Actions like the cold-blooded murders of the Bangladeshi atheist bloggers. Actions like sentencing Raif Badawi to 1000 lashes. Actions like refusing medical treatment for your curably ill child in favour of prayer. These actions affect those who do not share the beliefs we’re urged to just let people have. They encroach on freedoms and rights; they fuel hatred and violence; they ruin and end lives.
Like Ramsay’s stiff shaft, we don’t have a problem with your beliefs until you start shoving it where it’s not welcome.
There are several things I require before I will just “let you believe what you want to”:
1. You must keep those beliefs to yourself.
And by “yourself” I mean literally, “yourself." Not, “yourself plus your vulnerable children.” Not, “yourself plus your congressman.” I mean keep it to yourself. There’s nothing wrong with telling people what you believe or discussing it with those who seem to be genuinely curious, but when you’re knocking on our door on Saturday morning at 8 am just to tell us about your imaginary buddies, then we have a problem.
2. You must not use your beliefs to harm or abuse other people.
If you read an atheist’s blog and it makes you mad, post a comment about how you disagree. Reason your argument out, provide sources. Don’t go getting all Joffrey on our asses, swinging your longsword around, lobbing off the heads of those who dare insult your beloved Allah. Do not murder. Do not murder, or we will find ourselves having a problem.
3. If you see a loving gay couple preparing for their wedding and it bothers you, do what the rest of us do when someone farts on a crowded bus: shut the fuck up.
Under no circumstances should you stand up and start shouting about how the fart is gross and it makes you uncomfortable and the source of the emission should be banned from all future bus trips. Sit your ass down. Shut up. Keep your damned discomfort to yourself. This ain’t your bus, and you don’t make the rules.
4. Do not expect the world to share your beliefs or shape itself to them.
Yes, I’m talking about you, Mr. Jehova. Put your fist down and step away from that door. Quit trying to convert people, quit trying to change the law to suit your unfounded beliefs and quit trying to indoctrinate your children. Let people be who they are. Hey, that kinda sounds like what we’re talking about here, doesn’t it? Just let people believe what they want to believe! It goes both ways, my friend.
Let’s have a little review, shall we?
Perfectly Fine: You believe gay marriage is wrong.
Not okay: You stop gay people from getting married because you believe gay marriage is wrong. Now I’m going to have to say something.
Perfectly fine: You believe your religion should not be criticized.
Not okay: You kill people who criticize your religion because you believe it should not be criticized. Now I’m going to have to say something.
Perfectly fine: You believe the world was created 6000 years ago by your god.
Not okay: You lobby the government to teach this version of history to children regardless of the fact that the evidence contradicts it. Now I’m going to have to say something.
Perfectly fine: You believe being a Jehovah’s Witness is the right way to live.
Not okay: Knocking on my fucking door at 8am on a Saturday. Now, you had better expect, I’m going to have to say something.
It’s pretty simple, I think. Easy to follow, not difficult to grasp. You can tell me that I should just let others believe what they want to, for sure, just make sure you’re doing the same. If we can’t help but see your god as a vicious cunt, as Tyrion Lannister might say, then let us. It is of no concern to you.
What is your response when people tell you that you should just let people believe what they want to believe? Let me know in the comments.