Indecent 7

We often agree with Dennis Prager. We disagree with him when he talks about religion. (As we do with most conservative columnists and commentators, candidates and Congressmen.)

We wonder continually at the strangeness of the fact that millions of highly intelligent, educated, sane adults living in this age of science believe in the supernatural.

How poor their arguments are when they talk about it. How blindly they insist that religion is the sole source and guarantee of moral behavior.

Dennis Prager, writing in Townhall on the fairly trivial subject of an airline allowing a man dressed only  in women’s underwear to fly, mixes sense and nonsense in a manner typical of religious conservatives:

On June 9, a man boarded a US Airways flight from Fort Lauderdale to Phoenix, dressed in women’s panties, a bra and thigh-high stockings.

No US Airways employee at the Fort Lauderdale airport asked him to cover himself. Nor did any flight attendant ask him to do so. And obviously, no one demanded that he get off the plane.

US Airways spokeswoman Valerie Wunder was asked how the airline allowed a nearly naked cross-dresser to board a plane … She said employees had been correct not to ask the man to cover himself. ‘We don’t have a dress code policy. Obviously, if their private parts are exposed, that’s not appropriate. … So if they’re not exposing their private parts, they’re allowed to fly.’

The decline of American civilization since the 1960s has been so fast and so dramatic that it takes one’s breath away.

That a woman speaking on behalf of a major airline can say with a straight face that her airline allows anyone dressed or undressed to fly on its airplanes so long as they do not expose their genitals perfectly encapsulates this decline.

The only question is: How did we get here?

For one thing, the concept of decency is dying. I suspect that if an adult were to say to a group of randomly chosen American college students that this man indecently exposed himself and should not have been allowed to fly, that adult would be a) not understood — what does “indecent” mean? — and/or b) roundly condemned for intolerance and bigotry.

To judge this man as acting indecently, not to mention to bar him from flying, is to engage in violating the only values a generation of Americans has been taught: not to judge, not to discriminate, to welcome diversity and to fully accept those who are different, especially in the sexual arena.

That is why I think it is very difficult to have a dialogue on this matter. For those who believe in public “decency,” the matter is as clear as a bell — this was profoundly indecent — and for those who do not believe in such a concept, the matter is equally clear — “decency” is an anachronism.

So far, good enough. We agree that the man was not decently covered. It’s possible that some people on the flight found the exposure of most of his body shocking. What he did was not polite. Politeness, which respects the dignity of other people, is necessary to human relations: far more necessary than a saccharine pretense of generalized indiscriminate love.

But then Prager goes on to argue that a “reason for the death of the concept of ‘public decency'” is “the age of secularism in which we live”.

In a more religious America, the human being was regarded as created in God’s image, a being that ideally aspires to a level of holiness. As secularism proceeds with the increasing force of an avalanche, however, man is increasingly regarded as just another animal. One way in which higher civilizations have demonstrated the human-animal difference has been the wearing of clothing. Animals are naked in public; humans are clothed. But secularism eats away at such religious ideals. Thus religion-based concepts such as holiness and decency die out.

God’s image with clothes on?

The argument in Judaism is that man was made in God’s “moral image”, but  Christians say God was incarnated as Jesus of Nazareth. In Christian art, both “God the Father” and Jesus are usually depicted with clothes on – often a sort of woman’s nightgown or a toga-like garment – but not always. Michelangelo’s God on the Sistine Chapel roof is nude. Where but half-awakened Adam / Can disturb globe-trotting madam/ Till her bowels are in a heat, wrote W.B.Yeats.

Of course, though many a madam will trot or fly over half the globe to view that naked God and Adam, she might not enjoy having an almost naked man sitting next to her on her journey. We think Dennis Prager is right that she shouldn’t have to.

But no, Mr Prager, secularism does not destroy decency or politeness. Most secularists wear clothes and are polite. What they don’t do in the name of secularism is sniff out heretical views, punish apostasy, blow up infidels, hang homosexuals, stone adulterers, incarcerate critics, or torture and burn the nerve-threaded bodies of the living.

Such acts are done, have been done millions of times, in the name of religion. We think they are rather worse than indecent.

  • Ben

    Honest Prager isn`t the worst believer,though the  Israelite.I see the main target of his article in  the realy liberal idea of moral relativism of today`s world.The startling example of it is the so called Stockholm Syndrom when the kidnapted victim helps the criminal often the terrorist ,sometimes against the saviors.The atheism is not the political position and the religions and their role in societies are different. Well educated free-thinking people see the sources of the moral,even the altruistic behavior in the secular culture and in science.
    But the majority of the world population needs  the religion in primitive forms.

  • Ralph

    At least TSA didn’t have to pat him down.

    I’ve learned to think for myself. I know what is just without  the help of  a
    theist.

  • Damon Minvielle

    Would Dennis Prager like to know whether or not the transvestite passenger believes in God?
    Someone should ask the passenger, and then ask Prager whether that answer would make a difference.

    • George

      Good point Damon !       I’ll bet a large wager that the transvestite  was indeed  a god-believeing individual. When right wing conservative talks about GOD , they are specifically talking about the Christian deity , not any of the thousands of gods the world has known throughout the history of the human race.
                 I know of an atheist conservative  ( one of two in my area that I know of ) who swears by Dennis Prager , not knowing that the man is indeed anti-secular. The atheist conservative that I know only listens to Prager’s conservative political message while totally “mentally blocking out”  the anti-secular ranting  & raving of the Christian religious right,  while always trying to prove to me that he is so highly rational.  I keep “getting on his case” strongly when he does this and now there is no longer an association between him and me.   as if I really care. Some people actually have the nerve to get offended when you don’t allow them to  mentally control ,  manipulate or indoctrinate you.
                         Members of the radical christian right wing conservative movement actually hate and despise atheists because they have not been able to separate conservative thinking from their religious Christian indoctrination of which they have been so indoctrinated to believe that the two go together hand in hand.  In their minds, Christianity and conservative beliefs are one and the same .  In their minds being a true conservative means one has to be  a stone hard-core die-hard fundamentalist  “born again”  bible-humper.  The Bible humpers believe that everything American is strictly Christian.  The Bible bangers actually believe that if you are not a fundamentalist Christian , then you are not a true  American ( even former President George Bush Sr. said so  in stating that he did believe that atheists should be considered as citizens ).    The Bible pounders actually believe that true American patriotism requires a person to be a  church going fundamentalist Christian and nothing else is acceptable in their twisted minds and warped thinking. If the Bible lickers had their way our great nation would be called ——  the   [   Christian States of America    ].   Do you think I’m kidding ?  If they had their way every aspect of our lives would be directed and controlled by the Christian church and our great nation would in fact  be nothing but a staunch Christian theocracy.

      • George

        Correction of my above post–      [  Former President  George Bush Sr. stated that he did NOT believe that atheists should be considered as citizens   ]     Typo.

      • Andrew M

        I applaud your use of the term “Bible humpers”. It’s just so luridly appropriate.

        Being young myself, I can see the day where conservatism will divorce Jesus and it isn’t coming soon enough. A century of being associated with Communism did free-thinking no favors, since every self-respecting conservative polarized himself against that evil ideology. Horrible as it was, its failure in Soviet Russia had everything to do with horrible resource management and not a lick to do with their state atheism. Likewise, America prospers because it’s got the best economy, the best minds, the best schools, the best guns, the best soldiers, and the best science the world over. These are a function of its freedoms, which is a function of its Constitution and the laws of nature. Nowhere in this scheme do the tithes of Christian idolators fit.

        You may also find this article by Dana Loesch more brazenly instructive:
        http://bigjournalism.com/dloesch/2011/06/19/nbc-omits-under-god-from-pledge/

        • George

          I feel ya bro.   Hey Andrew , you stated — ”  I can see the day where conservatism will divorce Jesus and it isn’t coming soon enough” .   That is so true and one of the primary reasons why it isn’t coming soon enough is because of the cowardly and lazy atheists  ( both liberal and conservative ) who  refuse to “come out of the closet ” and assert themselves publicly like all other groups who fought for civil rights and fought to be accepted into our great society.
                           Every time I say this , it falls upon deaf ears. Every time I say this it is to no avail.  Every time I say this NO ONE acts on it.  I don’t expect atheists to be “in your face ” activists going around  ranting & raving in people’s  faces , or going around on a soap box with a bullhorn shouting secularism to the world , or canvassing through neighborhoods ringing doorbells and offering atheists tracts and pamphlets to people or putting secular leaflets upon people’s automobiles in parking lots, etc etc etc .   Oh no, but I do expect atheists to stand up and not be ashamed to tell the world that we are indeed rational thinking people who do not need theological indoctrinated dogma to be good people and productive people in our society.
                        The reason why the change is NOT going to come anytime soon is because secular freethinkers adamantly refuse to take their voices PUBLICLY.     Yes , I understand the fear factor of being ostracized, taunted , harrassed, insulted   and much more as I still go through this even now.   We live in a society where religion ( specifically  Christianity ) permeates nearly every aspect of societal life and anyone who doesn’t “jump upon the Christian bandwagon” will be an outcast and “blacklisted” and subjected to ridicule  and ad hominem attacks from the “braindead”  Bible-suckers out there.
                               If all we are going to do is make comments on a blog , write letters to a secular newsletter , post comments on secular discussion forums, attend monthly secular get togethers at a Unitarian Universalist Church or a public library conferrence room just to chit chat and whine to each other about how bad things are then things are NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER  going to change.  Period ! If atheists can’t understand this simple fact then atheists are NOT as rational as they claim to be.  This is the hardest thing in the world to get fellow atheists to understand. Whenever I say things that fellow atheists  LIKE  to hear or WANT to hear  , I get all the approval ratings of how they like what I say. As soon as I say the things that atheists NEED to hear then it’s either silence or either criticism (even from fellow atheists  both liberal , moderate and conservative ) —it doesn’t matter. 
                                I check the local and national newspapers regularly and the Christians are always pushing their religious beliefs upon others in the public “arena” —-but where are the atheists voices to counter it?    Where are the atheist letters to the editor ?  I hear conservative radio talk show hosts regularly shove Christianity down our throats routinely and insist that we are strictly a   Christian society. Where are the phone calls from the atheists to counter their propaganda ?  I so often get so frustrated by the fellow atheists who just sit around in silence and just chit chat to one another and yet wonder why we aren’t making any real and true progress to any significant amount.   I want to say to these people Andrew ————- what the f*** do you expect ?     Helllllllooooooooo !!!!!!!       Duhhhhhhhhhhh  !!!!!!!!
                              I know people think I’m radical and aggressive but actually I’m just openly assertive , blunt and to the point and some people just can’t handle it. I don’t “sugar coat” anything but  simply tell it like it is and I don’t let these religious zealot nut-cases walk over me and I speak up for myself which is what I try to encourage in fellow secular freethinkers.  Our public silence is working against us.  Our silence is destroying us. Our silence is actually a detriment to us. We need to get beyond the fear factor and grow a set of b**** and stand up for freedom of expression and freedom to exist as rational secular freethinkers.
                                The reason that the radical religious right Bible-humpers walk all over us is because we let them. The reason that we are not making much progress is because of our lack of fortitude in speaking out publicly.   Almost on a daily basis , I want to “throw in the towel” out of frustration at fellow athests ( not the Christians ) who adamantly refuse to stand up diligently with courage and speak out publicly for our positive and rational cause. I often wonder why I even bother. What good does it do if only a handful of secular people in America are speaking out against the vast millions who we are up against .
                               If there are suppose nto be 65 million non-religious people in America , then my question remains —–where are their public voices ?  Where are the atheist marches, demonstrations, sit ins , public assemblies ,  and public mass media expressions ?   Where are they ?    And yet we sit on our a**** and wonder why nothing changes significantly.  I just e-mailed a letter to the editor as an atheist.  I don’t know why I bother.  There are a vast multitude of atheists in my  area and I  am not going to continue to be  the only one putting my neck on the line while the others just sit on their a** and remain silent while I stick my neck out in their behalf.  I don’t see atheist organizations in America encouraging people to speak out and stand up for secular freethought .  I’m not going to continue to be the “lone wolf” out here fighting everybody else’s battles for them. I don’t care what anyone else says about this . I’m tired , frustrated and fed up ( with fellow atheists ) who won’t stand up for themselves but feel so comfortable hiding behind their computer annonymously typing out whining messages to one another. I truly love this blog and it’s posters  and nothing I say has anything to do with the fellow commenters or staff in any way but toward fellow atheists in general who just sit on their a** and won’t fight the fight for freethought and it frustrates the %$#@ out of me. I love this blog and the vast amount of info we receive  ( it is IMHO the best out there ) but we as atheists in general need to take this info and use it as a tool of rational info and go forth and stand up for ourselves and STOP letting these religious zealot wackos walk all over us.
                          We could be so far advanced if we simply stand up , speak up and get involved with ACTION and DEEDS and NOT  talk and lip service  and/or  [secular preaching to the choir ]. Why shopuld we be ashamed to announce to the world that we are rational people of reason ?  If the Christians get in our faces then we get back into THEIR faces. If the Christians badmouth us , then we badmouth them back. We fight fire with fire. I do not believe in being aggressive toward anyone or being antagonistic toward anyone or any form of secular proselytizing of the sort but we need to get our collective act together  and start speaking out more assertively and if we continue to refuse in being public with our position as freethinkers then we are contributing to our own downfall and societal rejection.   Atheist  groups and organizations need to encourage this more and more and set the example themselves.  The more I say this the more it is ignored. Sometimes I feel like I’m talking to myself or a brick wall.   Unfreakin’ real !!      Take care  Andrew.