It was my intention not to write on Dinesh D’Souza’s recent postings (which PZ Myers covers here), mostly because there are more important things in the world to write about. D’Souza is a hate-peddler. Sometime back in his life he discovered that he can acquire fame and fortune by manufacturing hate and selling it in the press. Or maybe he just discovered that he enjoyed hate-peddling. The virtues of truth and fairness are far beyond his grasp.
Yet, unfortunately, we live in a culture that cherishes the products of the hate-peddler, so D’Souza has indeed found a route to at least some measure of notoriety and wealth.
It is because our society pays hate-peddlers so well, in terms of cash, honor, and respect, that we have so many of them. If one were to think that a society would be better off without hate-peddlers – if one were to think that their contribution to society has more in common with that of the thief or arsonist than that of the honest laborer or scholar – then one would treat the hate-peddler the same way that we treat members of these other groups.
D’Souza would probably claim that I complain about his writings and call him names because I am angry at God for some offense.
No, Mr. D’Souza. I complain about your writings because I believe that hate-peddlers are like thieves and arsonists. You make this world a worse place to live, for everybody.
There are those who might think that D’Souza only makes the world a worse place for atheists (and the other target of his hatred). However, he does not. In being a hate-peddler, he promotes hate-peddling itself. This inspires other people to go into the business, and they will not all choose the same target. In fact, once people like D’Souza capture the market for hate against one group, the wise competitor has reason to pick a different target. They spread the hate around, so everybody can have some.
It is ironic that D’Souza argues that an atheist suffers from an inability to make moral judgments, when D’Souza himself is unable to perceive the immorality of his own actions. He does not understand that goodness and evil is found by making universal the principles of one’s actions – the idea that one should ‘do unto others what one would have others do unto you’.
I am certain that D’Souza would condemn anybody who make unfounded denigrating generalizations about any number of groups and call it wrong. I am certain that D’Souza would condemn the hate-mongers who pick any of a long list of targets. Yet, he does unto others exactly what he would condemn others for doing. He knows that this type of behavior is immoral, but he engages in it anyway.
The careful reader will notice that I am only writing about D’Souza himself. I do not generalize my remarks to make broad-brush claims about ‘Christians’ or ‘Theists’. D’Souza’s fault is not that he is a Christian or a theist. His fault that he is a hate-peddler. He happens to be a Christian hate-peddler. However, it is the quality of being a hate-peddler that makes him evil, not his quality of being a theist.
(I do know of some atheists who need to pay a bit closer attention to this type of distinction.)
The hate-peddler, in a sense, lets immoral people off of the hook, as it were, by transferring the guilty person’s guilt to some group – to whomever he is in the market of peddling hate against.
So, we hear that the murders at Virginia Tech are not really Cho’s moral responsibility. Cho was the unwitting victim of liberals who took prayer out of the schools. Or who argue that the real killers were liberals who refuse to allow college campuses to be modern versions of the old west, where everybody walks around with a gun on his or her hip ready to draw down on the first transgressor. Or is it the video-game manufacturers who are at fault? Or the movie industry? Or parents who spank their children?
Or was it perhaps Cho himself who murdered those students?
A look at the empirical evidence might actually uncover some statistical relationship between these other items and the disposition to murder. They might be able to uncover a relationship that says, “If we do X, then we can decrease each individual’s risk of being murdered – or of having somebody they care about from being murdered – by Y percent.” Then we can make informed decisions about which policy to pursue.
However, the hate-peddler is notoriously unconcerned about these types of relationships. The hate-peddler is only concerned about channeling the public’s pain, suffering, anguish, and desire for revenge against its target hate-group; motivated, not by a genuine interest in saving lives, but by an interest in profiting from the manufacture and sale of hate.
D’Souza’s accusation is that the atheist has no words of comfort to offer to those who suffered the loss of a loved one at Virginia Tech. When it comes to comforting those who are in grief, the atheist must remain silent.
Of course, D’Souza’s comfort comes in the form of a lie.
“Don’t grieve, Ms. Smith. Your daughter is not really dead. No, she hopped onto a plane with 31 of her friends and flew off to Tahiti. Sure, she’s having the time of her life – all expenses paid. Yes, she’s safe. She is well chaperoned and nothing bad can happen to her there. No, I’m afraid that you can’t contact her. Tahiti does not have phone service. No, I’m afraid it doesn’t have internet service either. Yes, you’ll see her again. We’re making arrangements to send you to Tahiti as well – all expenses paid.”
Yes, when reality proves to be particularly harsh, a lie can be comforting. It is fitting that those with no love for the truth would be the ones who are in the best position to lie.
However, one of the problems with this comforting lie is it downplays the magnitude of what happened in Virginia. These students are not enjoying an all-expense paid life under a perfectly benevolent chaperone in Tahiti. They are dead. Dead and gone. When they died, everything they were, and everything they wanted to become, died as well.
Is this too harsh? Is this difficult to accept?
This type of killing should be difficult to accept, because it clearly is unacceptable. The less people accept it, the more they are inclined to do something about it. Something useful. One of them, perhaps, might be motivated to grab D’Souza by the lapel and shout into his face loud enough to penetrate his thick skull, “YOU . . . ARE . . . NOT . . . HELPING!”
He is not helping. Ironically, D’Souza peddles hate for the very people whose capacity for empirical research and theory formation are in the best position to discover how to explain events. That which can be explained can be predicted. That which can be predicted can be avoided. Anybody who has an interest in explaining, predicting, and avoiding events such as this has an interest in rejecting and even condemning the hate that D’Souza loves to sell. Anybody who is in the market for D’Souza’s hate can’t be all that concerned with being able to explain, predict, and avoid events such as Virginia Tech.
It was my intention not to write about D’Souza’s postings because there are more important things to write about. Then I noticed, through D’Souza’s postings, that our abilities to explain, predict, and avoid events such as those in Virginia Tech are being threatened. I noticed how D’Souza trivializes the death of these people with a make-belief story in which they are all healthy and happy in a far-away land still enjoying themselves.
I noticed that there is something important to talk about here – the saving of innocent lives, and those who would rather peddle hate than save lives.