Humanism – Social Media – Gervais Is Right About This – 17 October 2012

I deliberately reposted the Ricky Gervais tweet mentioned here, and I want to take a moment to tell you why.

The original tweet reads: “This week I safely dropped a man from space while you shot a child in the head for wanting to go to school.”

Here is the man being dropped from space Gervais is talking about:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=D8XJVeFDLso

Here is the child Gervais is talking about: http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/story/2012/10/15/pakistan-malala-england.html

Complaints are flying fast and furious about the Gervais tweet. But Gervais is absolutely right to make this comparison and people who are right should not have to apologise for hurting the sensibilities of people who have their priorities out of whack. If you’re religious and are scandalised by what Gervais said, yes, you now have your pretext to go on a self-pity tour and pretend that the War Against Christmas or some similar bunch of nonsense is more important than all the crap that happens in this world while religious people are finding something else to care about.

Gervais is now being treated shamefully for making a comment with which I basically agree. The Huffington Post apparently considers it an opportunity to lump him in with “comedians saying controversial things”…and it is mind-bogglingly offensive that the HuffPost considers this tweet, where Gervais is defending people victimised by fundamentalist religion, something that falls in the same category as Tracy Morgan slamming gays or Michael Richards smearing blacks.

It’s not as if Gervais is a perfect person, mind you. He has wandered into the Morgan/Richards kind of territory in the past, particularly with one comment he made at the Golden Globe Awards insinuating things about the private lives of a pair of “famous Scientologists” who are actors. True or not, that’s none of his business, and since he made that comment, Rashida Jones apparently decided it must be open season on one of those “famous Scientologist” actors. Jones continued to make insinuations about that individual, and ultimately was called upon to apologise. When she thought about what she was actually saying, and how hurtful it could be to the person in question, she apologised without reservation. Gervais should also.

Nonetheless, there is no similar problem with this tweet. It is a straightforward statement – science is about liberating the human spirit from constraints, and religion is, all too often, about enforcing those constraints – making people accept the constraints as inevitable and something for which there is no alternative.

Gervais can take credit for spreading a great one-liner, not only because it made some of us laugh, but also because, in a few words, it got right to the heart of an important matter.

People who live in a world where religion and scientific enquiry are commensurable need take no offence at the tweet. They can just say “I know Gervais is not talking about me” when they read it. Simplest thing in the world. Loosen up, gang. I know some of you may want to, but don’t go on that self-pity tour. Just be confident that your religion isn’t holding you back – and make sure people understand that this is the case by distinguishing your modern views with the reactionary views sometimes spread in your religion’s name.

People who live in a dream world where there are only people who think like them and The Damned who deserve what they get for being different…well, if those people are offended, Gervais has done his job well.

Ricky Gervais, don’t you dare apologise. You are speaking for lots of us. Give ’em “hell”.

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