Hate Mail

Eugene Tan

[Editor's note: This guy seems to think that freedom of expression is a bad idea]

March 21, 2001:

How insensitive can you be? I have no doubt that some of what you said is true but the tone you used seems to be saying that all Christians are fanatics.

Either that, or you are reacting defensively. I took great pains to distinguish between right-wing fundamentalists who espouse union of church and state, and moderate Christians who respect diversity and human rights. If you fall into the latter group, you shouldn't take any of that personally. Read it carefully.

The following is the most insensitive of all your statements "I find it hard to believe that people accepted Mary's story about immaculate conception even though it was an obvious excuse to avoid being stoned to death for having a child out of wedlock" Such a statement is inflammatory.

Such a statement is the only thing that any objectivist would ever say about the subject. Nowhere did I claim that all Christians were evil, or stupid. I state that I find some of their beliefs rather questionable, but that's not more "inflammatory" than a Christian stating that he doesn't believe in evolution theory. I may disagree with him but I wouldn't call it "inflammatory". Why do some people have to react so defensively to everything?

What gives you the right to mock a persons belief?

Everyone has the right to mock a person's belief. What they don't have is the right to make unfounded generalizations about entire groups of people or shove their beliefs down other peoples' throats. If you say "I don't see how anyone can possibly believe in evolution", that's your right. I may disagree, but I won't accuse you of bigotry.

However, if you say "all atheists are immoral", then that is religious bigotry. And if you say "we need to teach the Ten Commandments in the public schools", you are trying to shove religion down the throats of children whose parents may not agree with it, and that's wrong.

Freedom of speech you will no doubt say. Freedom of speech without restrain leads to many of the problems we see in the west. It causes racial and religious disharmony.

Disharmony is another word for diversity. We think of it as a good thing.

I'm surprise that your government and the US government doesn't exercise some control.

Thankfully, we don't live in totalitarian dictatorships. Freedom of religion and freedom of expression means that I can say any damned thing I want. I cherish that freedom, as do millions of my countrymen, not to mention millions of my American neighbours to the south.

If I want to say that I think the Virgin Mary was no virgin, that's my right. In fact, if I decided to run around saying that the Virgin Mary was a lying whore, Jesus was a deranged con man, and Paul was a deranged misogynistic psychopath, I could do that too. I choose not to go that far because it's simply rude, but if I did not have that freedom, then I would be living in a country which ignores basic human rights. My idea of Hell. Not yours?

I implore to your better judgment to remove of your some of uncalled for remarks you made.

You confuse a criticism of some of your beliefs as a criticism of your person. I took great pains to state very clearly that I hold no ill will toward moderate Christians. If you fall into that group, then nothing I ever said applies to you. However, if you fall into the right-wing fundamentalist group that wishes to crush freedom of religion and freedom of expression (and I'm starting to suspect that you do, given your belief that the government should "exercise some control"), then you need to take a good long hard look at yourself and realize that your position is absolutely immoral.

Your essay seem skewered toward Christian as a whole. Yes there are idiots fundamentalist who believe that we should believe in God but not God but their God.

That's just one of the things wrong with fundamentalists. However, I'm starting to seriously suspect that their other problems (such as the belief that the state should promote the church and protect its doctrines) are problems that you share.

Also you stated about the catholic believe on the papal inerrancy. This is only applicable on articles of faith and dogma.

Ah, so a person who tells his followers to run about murdering, torturing, and enslaving others is "infallible" whenever he talks about faith and "dogma", eh? How is "dogma" defined? Are Papal Bulls considered fallible?


March 23, 2001 (I didn't bother replying to this one):

Yes I may have overreacted and said some harsh things and for that I apologize. However on the case of papal bulls they are a generic name for any letters written by the pope. The following refer to infallibility of the Pope on matters of doctrine:

The First Vatican Council (1870) defined Papal Infallibility as follows:

"...the Roman Pontiff, when he speaks ex cathedra, that is, when, in discharge of the office of pastor and teacher of all Christians, by virtue of his supreme Apostolic authority, he defines a doctrine regarding faith or morals to be held by the universal Church, is, by the divine assistance promised to him in Blessed Peter, possessed of that infallibility with which the divine Redeemer willed that His Church should be endowed in defining doctrine regarding faith or morals; and that, therefore, such definitions of the Roman pontiff are of themselves, and not from the consent of the Church, irreformable."

Consequently, the Pope is only infallible when:

He speaks Ex Cathedra, i.e., as supreme teacher of the universal Church. He is not infallible in any other capacity; When he defines a doctrine absolutely and finally; When he treats of faith or morals; When he clearly shows his intention of binding the universal Church.

Infallibility has nothing to do with the personal actions of Popes, their disciplinary decisions or even unofficial comments or personal opinions expressed by them, even on faith and morals. It should also be noted that papal infallibility is a charism that is personal to the Pope only and cannot be communicated, transferred or delegated to any other individual, tribunal or congregation. Even doctrinal decisions issued by Roman congregations and approved by the Pope cannot be considered infallible. Only decisions issued by the Pope himself in his name and which satisfy all four of the above conditions are infallible.

[Editor's note: yadda yadda yadda. I asked if Papal Bulls were considered fallible, and he gave me that for an answer? A simple yes or no would have sufficed]

You said that freedom of speech mean you can say anything you want and be heard. What if what you said offends someone? What if what you say may be right but one must exercise control over what one says. If what you said causes violence or disharmony and its over silly little thing is that freedom of speech worth it? I have seen time and time again that freedom of speech is a Pandora's box. So we have to be weary of what we say and exercise your freedom of speech carefully.

[Editor's note: if the Christian fundamentalists would exercise some restraint to avoid insulting atheists, attacking members of other faiths, denigrating and misrepresenting science, damaging public education, promoting psychologically crippling sexual dysfunctions, and advocating theocracy, maybe I wouldn't feel the need to contradict them. However, since they do not exercise any restraint on their insane rhetoric, I see no reason to restrain myself from criticizing them. In fact, I feel that it is vitally important that anyone with a voice speak up in defense of those who would be trampled underfoot in their drive towards theocracy. Obviously, he can't see this because he identifies with the people whose precious feelings are hurt rather than the people whose rights and interests are being trampled upon. Also notice how he suggests that I might somehow incite violence or disharmony merely by speaking the truth. Whatever happened to "the truth shall set you free"?]

Never did I say the state should promote the church. I believe that the government and the church or any other religion should not be in a place of power. I believe in separation of Church and State. I know for a fact that most religion when place in power start of well meaning and up being a tyrant.

As for my belief that the government should exercise some control it is my belief. And like you said you may disagree with me but its my right.

[Editor's note: interesting, isn't it? He admits the church has no business running the state, but then he immediately turns around and says that he thinks the state should silence people who criticize the church! I don't think he truly understands this whole "separation of church and state" thing]

I live in country where I can walk outside at 3 o'clock in the morning and know I won't be mugged. I live in a country where the crime rate is low. Yes I sacrifice some freedom but I live in safety and assurance. The west if may say so gears freedom more to the individual rather than toward society. Sadly to say the west's idea of freedom would work in theory. However humans are selfish and too much of anything is bad.

[Editor's note: it's hard to find the ideal balance between societal stability and individual freedom. However, the most basic, elemental freedom of all is the freedom to think what you want and speak your mind. If that freedom is abrogated, then there can be no freedom at all. Mr. Tan seems to think that if any freedoms must be sacrificed or diminished upon the altar of societal stability, the freedom to speak your mind should be the first to go. I vehemently disagree, and the UN's universal charter of human rights would suggest that the majority of the world's governments (both east and west) agree with me]


Last updated: August 5, 2001


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