“One out of four people is mentally unbalanced. Think of your three best friends. If they seem all right then you’re the one.” – Slappy White
Lurking out there are people who hold some very extreme and completely insane views. This ranges right across the diversity of belief; some specific example includes weirdness such as:
- Westboro Baptist church protesting outside a department store in their home town because they just happened to sell Swedish made vacuum cleaners. Apparently the Swedish government had rebuked somebody for being anti-gay. Since their local department store was the closest they could get to Sweden, they made do with that.
- A student who kept the communication wafer from a Catholic mass instead of consuming it is accused of kidnapping Jesus, faces demands that he should be expelled from his university by leading Catholics, and also receives death threats.
- The Iranian cleric, Kazem Seddiqi, declaring that woman wearing loose clothing causes earthquakes.
- Pat Robinson blaming a historical pact with the Devil hundreds of years ago as the root cause for a devastating earthquake in Haiti.
- Drawing a cartoon of Mohammad results in death threats against a cartoonist.
And on and on it goes, countless other examples abound. Its all stuff that is so totally bizarre it leaves most normal people scratching their heads as they struggle to join up the dots when faced with such thinking. It is oh-so-tempting to dismiss this as pure stupidity (well, yes it is) and to also categorize all such antics as originating from the intellectually challenged residents at the shallow end of the gene pool, but its not that simple, it never is. Quite often this stuff comes from smart people, so applying the label “Moron” or “Idiot” may be emotionally satisfying, but is unfortunately factually inaccurate. No, there is another word that is a far better explanation for all this, namely “Religion”.
From the viewpoint of the faith-based world-view, what is being said is completely logical and consistent, and in fact it is your denial that is deemed to be crazy. They are sure that you don’t have all the facts, but if you would just believe, then your eyes would be opened to the truth. Yes indeed, its logical, its consistent and its also completely nuts. I should know, I’ve been there myself and have even experienced the Orwellian double-think where I genuinely believed two mutually exclusive views to be both true (Yes the Bible is the divine word of God and every word is true, and yes Evolution is true).
What I’m not going to get into now is to probe into the question of why smart people believe crazy things, I’ll save that for another day. Instead this blog post takes a different tack and considers how to best respond when faced with this socially acceptable form of madness.
Often, when writing or blogging its appropriate to be transparent and openly label it for what it is, “Bullshit”, but there is also scope for something completely different. This alternative is what I term “Going Monty Python”. In other words, don’t loose your cool, don’t fight back with an equal quantity of verbal aggression, but instead strive to out-crazy the cranks with an even more insane response.
- For the Wesboro folks, some go out and join them with prank signs such as “Where is Waldo?”, or just “I have a sign”. Folks love it and forget all about the nutters. I blogged about it here.
- Just Google “Crackergate” to find the story of Jesus being held hostage and how PZ desecrated a cracker to highlight how absurd it all was. I blogged about it here.
- As for earthquakes and loose clothing … just Google “Boobquake”
And so there you have it, the ideal response to nutters. Just deploy Satire and Pranks in a humorous manner that highlights just how completely insane the bullshit actually is. Its entertaining, its non-aggressive and gets the point across very well.