Monday, May 07, 2007

Get a freaking grip!

Yet more from the “Free speech as long as it doesn’t offend me” files.

Here’s the link.

Here’s the deal, Starbucks is running a ‘thing’ where they’re collecting all kinds of opposing viewpoints from their customers and printing them on their cups in an effort to ‘encourage discussion’.

Then, someone reads a point of view that she calls ‘anti-god’ and complains.

The quote reads:

"Why in moments of crisis do we ask God for strength and help? As cognitive beings, why would we ask something that may well be a figment of our imaginations for guidance? Why not search inside ourselves for the power to overcome? After all, we are strong enough to cause most of the catastrophes we need to endure."

Now to me, that’s not exactly ‘anti-God’. It’s a question, and as the promotion states, it’s to ‘encourage discussion’.

If you read closely, you’ll see it says “…something that may well be a figment of our imaginations…”

Nothing saying God doesn’t exist. Nothing anti-God at all. If you ask me, the ‘spirit’ of this question is about why we turn to an external non-proven form of help, instead of relying on our own strength and the strength of our families in times of trouble.

But that’s not my point.

This woman is foaming at the mouth because there’s something on a coffee cup that may be in conflict with her own personal beliefs. In other words, this is another case of “This viewpoint offends me, so I demand it be removed entirely.”

“As someone who loves God, I was so offended by that, I don't think there needs to be religious dialogue on it. I just want coffee."

Ok, that’s fair enough. There doesn’t need to be religious dialogue on coffee, but I wonder if the quote on the cup said “God is wonderful! Praise him!” this woman would be complaining. It’s not about religious dialogue being in a place it doesn’t belong. It’s about religious dialogue that conflicts with one person’s opinion.

Well, let me put this into perspective.

If I drive to the local store, I pass a huge billboard for the ‘New Image Outreach Program”, a Christian ‘social club’ for teenagers. I also pass three churches with billboards on the outside that have quotes from the bible and the ever popular “What’s missing from ChCh? U R!”. Then I see another one of those billboards that say something like “Don’t make me come down there – God.”

That’s 5 religious statements in a two mile stretch…not to mention the little religious signs people like to put up in their front yards.

I could just as easily complain that all these signs are offensive to me as an Atheist, and I should be able to drive to the store without having religious dogma forced in my face. I could say that they could be interpreted as a personal attack on me, and unfair as other religions aren’t equally represented.

However, that’s the big difference between me and this woman. I’m an Atheist, but I understand the concept that people may have different beliefs than me, and they have exactly the same right that I do to express and try to spread those beliefs. I don’t think that my beliefs are any more valid or important than anyone else’s.

In other words, feel free to disagree with me, just don’t be shocked when I expect you to extend the same courtesy.

The deal is that free speech covers everyone in this country, not just one group of people.

It’s free speech not ‘free speech as long as it doesn’t conflict with my own point of view’.

If you want ideas about religion taken off coffee cups, take down all those signs and keep religion in the church for people who want to hear it.

You can’t express your own ideas and cry foul when others express theirs.

No comments: