Archive for June 16th, 2008


Opinions are like assholes…

OK, let me finish that thought:

Opinions are like assholes. Everyone has one.

I’m sure you’ve heard that before. On the one hand, it is incredibly condescending because without opinions and without sharing said opinions, the world is a worse place, both in terms of becoming boring as hell as well as crippling intellectual discourse. On the other hand, as I watch things like FOX News and read comments on various blogs I visit, I cannot help but realize that some opinions (many of them in fact) are best left unshared because they are so freaking inaccurate or plain loony.

So, the companion to the “Opinions are like assholes…” insight might be that “Documentaries are like conception. It generally requires a dick to make it happen.”

OK, cheap shot, I know. Actually, the are a great number of documentaries that have great things to say and you can’t even tell if the director, writer and/or producer are dicks. My snarky comment above has more to do with a couple of the more prominent religion-oriented documentaries that are making the rounds in the news.

Back in April, it was conservative Ben Stein and his Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed feature and now it’s the upcoming Religulous that has Bill Maher at the helm. I fully admit, I haven’t seen Expelled yet. And I don’t know if I’ll watch Religulous, if for no other reason that what I said at a Deus Ex Malcontent post here, which I will reproduce below:

I used to have a love-hate thing with Bill Maher, but it’s gone closer and closer to the hate side…not so much because he says some (OK, many) things I disagree with, but the vehemence with which I’ve seen him strike out at groups and beliefs he doesn’t hold dear. George Carlin can go off on a rant like the one Chez posted here. …and I think it’s funny as hell even though it lambasts beliefs that I hold dear. But when Bill Maher attacks a similar (or same) topic, even with jokes, he seems to just be mean-spiritedly telling folks “You’re a bunch of delusional idiots that should never breed or share your thoughts with anyone else and you are less to me than dogshit on the soles of my shoes.” So, while I think Maher has some insights and I think he has a sharp and burning wit, he also seems to be filled with more desire to rip people down than to actually spur some kind of understanding. I see him as a funnier version of Bill O’Reilly, frankly. But you know, I’ve judged people wrong before, and maybe I DO just dislike Maher because he says things with which I disagree. I just think he’s gotten full of himself more and more with every passing year and thinks he’s more important and more relevant than he really is, even more so than folks like Al Franken and Ben Stein…who suffer from similar tendencies.

To be fair and equal and all that, here is what I said in response to Chez’s post about Expelled, a post you can view in its entirety here:

You know, I’m a Christian who believes in an intelligence behind the design of the universe, but I’m not all that jazzed by having it taught in the classroom. Because there isn’t a solid foundation on which to teach it that is respectful of all the students and the wide range of beliefs. Evolution has plenty of holes too, as a comprehensive and unifying theory that is, but evolution does exist as the foundation for the way animals and humans move forward. What troubles me more about the schools is the way that curricula leave out things that are much more critical…such as the dark side of colonialism (Native Americans, slavery, etc.) that get glossed over, and the focus on standardized testing and slashing of arts education, just to name a few. Also, I get a little ticked off when schools try to undermine parents who are raising kids with a religious foundation or cherished cultural traditions. I don’t think that religion should be taught in public schools but neither do I want to see schools virtually endorsing some things that parents are, at home, telling their children is not appropriate. Schools are not an appropriate place to talk about intelligent design, and they are ALSO not the place where children should be given their moral compass.

As I’ve noted, I cannot comment as to the content of either documentary. But I can discern from the personalities involved and what has been said by others what the intent is. Bill Maher is going to hate on religion as the source of almost all evil in the world and Ben Stein was trying to push the teaching of a theory that has no actual scientific backing in an effort to promote a God-centered policy in public schools.

Neither of these things is useful. Say what you will about someone like Michael Moore, but at least he’s trying to get some change on things that affect the economy and political landscape of this nation. I don’t always agree with him, but Moore is trying to encourage change in a positive direction, even if it is a particular ideological direction that he espouses (liberal politics, of course). Stein wants to put religion in the classroom (and not in an educational, comparative religion manner) and Maher would browbeat anyone who believes in any god and classify them as somehow already intellectually damaged if they can even believe in religious faith. How does this help us?

Schools already have to deal with the crap-trap known as the No Child Left Behind Act and watch things like physical education and arts funding fall by the wayside and watch standardized tests take center stage while actual hours for real learning are cut back…and we discourage our kids from critical thinking while force-feeding them history that is not only cursory but often paints inappropriately rosy pictures of the United States despite all the sins of the past…and Stein wants to add curricula about intelligent design to the mix? What a friggin’ waste!

And Bill Maher every time I’ve ever seen him comment on religious stuff lumps all believers into the same pot as the true wackos with his smarmy and pompous attitude. Make no mistake, Bill Maher thinks that if you have any real belief in a faith—any faith—you are an idiot. He immediately dismisses the value of anything you have to say after it is established that you believe in any god of any sort. Way to build bridges, Bill!

There is much to like and much to hate when it comes to religion, and there are intellectually valid reasons for questioning issues of faith. There are also plenty of reasons to defend religion against the creeping secularism that attempts to purge it from every public aspect of our lives.

But that doesn’t mean we need to be assholes about it.

Even if all of us have one.


Deacon Blue is the blogging persona of editor and writer Jeffrey Bouley. The opinions of Jeff himself on this blog, and those expressed as Deacon Blue, in NO WAY should be construed as the opinions of anyone with whom he has worked, currently works, or will work with in the future. They are personal opinions and views, and are sometimes, frankly, expressed in more outrageous terms than I truly feel most days.

Jeff Bouley


Jeff Bouley

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June 2008

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